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The Malawi Sticks, the men’s team of Malawi marked their return to International hockey in Africa with a sound 3-1 bashing of hosts Tanzania. Malawi, whose last participation in international competition was in All Africa Games hosted by South Africa in 1999, announced their strong intention to compete for honours on the continent.
An almost 2 decades of absence from the international scene may have weighed heavily on Malawi hockey, but the Malawi Sticks sent a positive signal home that hockey in Malawi, if adequately supported, can win laurels for the country.
Malawi started strongly but were held at bay in the first quarter by a confident Tanzanian team who were confident they would scale this first hurdle of the competition. Seven minutes into the second quarter, Malawi drew first blood with a well taken goal from open play courtesy James Bandawe. Tanzania shook off the shock and carried the game to the Malawians. The continuous raid on the goal area of Malawi yielded result with Sunny D’Souza levelling the scores for the hosts in the 28th minute to end the half. The third quarter saw a lot of action but did not register any goals.
The final quarter saw a battle for dominance with play swinging from one end to the other. It was however the Malawians who went ahead through a penalty stroke converted by Daniel Matavata in the 52nd minute. Tanzania threw everything into the game to redeem a point but in the process, they slackened at the back and the Malawians capitalized on that to punish them with a third goal a minute from the end of the match with a field goal by Denollye Mgeni.
Earlier in the women’s encounter, Zambia inflicted misery on the hosts Tanzania with a 3-1 victory. Zambia led 1-0 at end of the first quarter through a lovely goal by Loveness Mudenda from open play. Tanzania came back strongly to draw level from a penalty corner converted by Shakira Mtenji to end the first half.
The third quarter was evenly contested with no goals registered. It was however the Zambians who run away with victory in the first of three matches scoring twice through Carol Nakombe (47th minute) from open play, and Eniless Mambwe (56th minute) from a penalty corner.
Day two will feature only one men’s match with hosts Tanzania seeking to rebound from the defeat to Malawi with an emphatic win over Zambia.