The race to be crowned Africa club champions got underway today at the Theodosia Okoh hockey pitch, Accra, with disappointments for Ghana’s male representatives as both GRA and Trustees lost their opening games.
It was defending champions, Eastern Company Club of Egypt who engaged Nigeria’s police machine in the men’s opener. the Egyptians took control of the game right from the start making dangerous runs into the opponents half. Aboutaleb Mahmoud and Rashwan Mohamed made things difficult for the Nigerians with their inter positional play. a penalty corner awarded in the 13th minute was perfectly executed by Aboutaleb Mahmoud with drag flick into the top left corner beating Sani Almustapha in post for Police Machine.
Rashwan Mohamed increased the tally two minutes inside the second quarter before Aboutaleb from another penalty corner made it 3-0. the game at this point was out of reach for the Nigerians.
However, the final quarter brought the best out of Police Machine with Olayinka Jayeoba and Michael Agbaegbu the main actors. A fantastic solo run from Michael down the left side of Eastern’s defense saw him outwit three defenders before playing the ball past goalkeeper Shehata Farahat to reduce the deficit. The goal seem to have sparked more life into Police Machine but all efforts proved futile. The game ended with Eastern company 3-1 winners.
A hat-trick from Linus kelvin was enough to win all maximum points for Niger flickers in their game against Ghana’s Trustees.
Kelvin put the flickers ahead as early as the 6th minute with a reverse hit going through the legs of Karikari in post for Trustees. Johnny Botsio leveled the game from a penalty corner.
Captain Nsalbini Salya put trustees in front from a penalty stroke after defender John Micheal stopped Botsio’s trademark reverse hit with his leg on the goal line. Flickers equalized five minutes later after goalkeeper Jeffery Karikari allowed Endurance Ngozi’s feeble hit elude him into his post.
Coach Edmond Aryeetey decided to bring on John Kenneth in place of Karikari who was having a bad day. Abgeli Samuel put the Ghanaian side in front in the final quarter to send the entire stadium into jubilant mood. Niger Flickers John Michael was shown a straight red card minutes later after a silly foul on Salya Nsalbini to make matters worse for the Nigerians.
The party was however cut short for Trustees and the home crowd when Kelvin got his brace with a reverse hit after bad defending form Trustees. He completed his hat-trick four minutes to time with a deflection inside the area from Ngozi’s long hit. Johnny Botsio and his side tried to level the game but the resilience of the flickers defense proved vital. The game ended with Niger Flickers beating trustees 4-3.
The final game for match day three produced seven goals as Egyptian champions and competition record title holders, El Sharkia beat Ghanaian champions GRA 5-2.
Ahmed Moahmed Aly opened the gates in the 14th minute. A brilliant play from Ahmed Gamal on the right found Aly in the area to tap home from close range. GRA responded in the 27th minute from Micheal Akuamaoh.
Gobran Hosam put El Sharkia in front for the second time from a penalty corner. Moahmed Aly made it 3-1 in the 36th minute. The Egyptians who used less energy and allowed the ball travel more looked to have carried the lead into the final quarter before Damalie Luke’s penalty corner goal reduced the deficit for GRA. Luke got injured in the process and had to be replaced after getting the goal.
The fourth quarter started with both team very conscious and tactically disciplined. Skipper Sameer Mohamed stepped up to covert their second penalty corner of the game with a drag flick. Gobran put the game beyond GRA in the 51st minute when he deflected Moahmed Aly’s reverse hit cross from the right flank closer to the corner flag.
GRA played very well but lack of experience on their part ensured they tasted defeat for the first time in over 12 months of action.
Speaking after the contest, Sharkia’s Ahmed Ezz said “We came into this with a sole aim of winning and that is what we did. GRA are a very strong side and showed that in the game…we have won this game and our focus is on the very next till we get to the final”.
El Sharkia’s win put them top of the men’s table with Eastern Company coming second. Niger Flickers with that famous win over trustees lie third level on points with the Egyptians. Ghana’s duo of Trustees and GRA come in 5th and 6th respectively after Nigeria’s police machine.