Road to Tokyo 2020: Nsalbini inspires Ghana to beat Namibia

Author: George Ernest Asare
Alfred Ntiamoah (right) keeps close eye on his opponent during their match against Namibia

Skipper Salya Nsalbibi scored a hat-trick to inspire Ghana’s male hockey to a 3-1 victory over Namibia on Tuesday August 13 to maintain a perfect run in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifier at the hockey stadium of Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

Nsalbini, who scored the match winner in Ghana’s opening fixture against Kenya last Monday, opened the scoring in the 10th minute of the second quarter through a penalty corner.

He was on target again in the fifth and eighth minutes of the last quarter to complete his hat-trick to win the day for Ghana.

However, Ghana’s female side could not draw inspiration from their male counterparts as they were held 1-1 by Kenya earlier in the day

The Namibians took the game to their Ghanaian counterparts, determined to make up for a 1-3 loss to South Africa on the opening day. Their game plan to pack the defence and work on the counters worked well as the southern Africans held the Ghanaians in check in the first quarter. However, Ghana’s captain broke their resilience with the opener through a penalty corner.

Moments later, Pieter Jacobs scored to bring Namibia at par just before the second quarter ended. The two sides failed to add to their tally in the  third quarter but when the fourth quarter  got underway, Ghana marshalled more men forward, attacked in droves and punched holes in Namibia’s defence but wasted scoring opportunities.

The tide later tilted in Ghana’s favour in the 50th minute when Nsalbini converted a penalty corner to give his side a 2-1 lead and then sealed victory with his third goal through a penalty corner three minutes later.

Ghana’s male team will take a break today and return to action tomorrow with a tough clash against South Africa, hoping to end the dominance of the hosts in continental competitions.

In was a day of mixed feelings as Ghana’s female team failed to collect maximum points from Kenya, having started the competition with a 3-1 win over Zimbabwe on Monday August 12.

It was the Kenyans who drew first blood in the seventh minute of the first quarter through Rhoda Kuira’s short penalty corner. But it was not until the seventh minute of the second quarter that Mavis Berko pulled level for Ghana when she converted a penalty corner.

The Ghanaian ladies will wait until Saturday before playing Namibia in their third match of the competition, while Kenya will take on Zimbabwe on Thursday August 15.

In other matches, South Africa’s female team posted a 2-0 win against Zimbabwe through goals by Mali Ongeziwe (14th minute) and Chamberlain Dirkie (57th minute).

Earlier, Egypt’s male side massacred Kenya 7-2 to claim maximum points, having defeated Zimbabwe 6-0 in their opening match last Monday.

Defending champions South Africa  were merciless in their match against Zimbabwe as they hammered them 9-0 to prove that they were one of the teams to watch in the tournament