The men and women’s hockey teams of Zambia, celebrated a historic double by winning the inaugural edition of the AfHF President’s Cup in Arusha, Tanzania. By this feat, both teams qualify to join the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) top 7 ranked nations in Africa for the Africa Cup for Nations Competition scheduled for South Africa in August.
The ladies were the first to book their place with an emphatic 3-0 win over host Tanzania in the second of the best of 3 matches. Having won the first match, the second win put the tie beyond the Tanzanian, making the third match an academic exercise. Considering various factors at play, the Tournament Director in conjunction with the LOC, applied the necessary provisions in the Tournament Regulation to crown Zambia champions.
Zambia ladies went into the tie determined to secure the three points at stake with a strong start. The Tanzanians, eager to restore some pride fought back gallantly holding their opponents at bay to end the first quarter scoreless. The second quarter followed the closely contested pattern until four minutes from the end when Janet Chisha put Zambia a goal ahead to end the half.
Four minutes into the third quarter, Janet Chisha struck again from a penalty corner to put Zambia in a comfortable lead. The Tanzanians fought back but were unable to redeem the goal. The final quarter saw more attacking by the desperate Tanzanians who were kept at bay by the tactical defensive play of the Zambians. As the match drew to a close, the Zambians sensed the fatigue of the Tanzanians and unleashed a flurry of attacks on their opponents’ goal area which resulted in a goal being scored by Carol Nakombe in 56th minute to guarantee the championship.
The Men’s match was a much closely contested battle with Malawi dominating slightly in the initial quarter which ended 0-0. It took a bit of time for Zambia to warm up in the second quarter and when they did, they took the lead in the 20th minute with a well taken field goal by Blessings Lowole. Tried as the Malawians did to redeem the goal, the Zambian defence remained resolute to the end of the contest for the famous victory.
The closing ceremony was held in pouring rain, but that didn’t matter to any of the teams and the players who demonstrated how proud they were to be part of history and also, how very satisfied they were having given off their best and won medals to show to all on their return home.
Congratulations to Tanzania Hockey who demonstrated their prowess and preparedness to organize future high profile events of the AfHF with a good job done by the LOC. Well done to all who made it a great success.