GRA Ladies are African champions - El Sharkia claim men’s title

BY: George Ernest Asare
Players of GRA Ladies pose with their medals and trophies after their victory over defending champions, Telkom Orange of Kenya last Saturday
Players of GRA Ladies pose with their medals and trophies after their victory over defending champions, Telkom Orange of Kenya last Saturday

Roberta Owusu Sarfoa of Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Ladies and Edres Mohamed Al Sayed of Egyptian hockey giants, El Sharkia, became the heroine and hero respectively at the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium last Saturday as they provided the decisive goals which earned their teams the bragging rights as the 2017 African champions in hockey.

While Sarfoa’s strike in the 55th minute of the last quarter dethroned defending champions, Telkom Orange as the African ladies champions to turn the stadium into a festive ground, Al Sayed’s beautiful flick to a short corner in the 44th minute of the third quarter settled the men’s final, an all-Egypt affair between El Sharkia and defending champions, Eastern Company.

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The two final matches did not only attract a lot of hockey fans and dignitaries but lived up to expectation as games of equals, particularly the ladies’ clash which was hard fought.

When the two sides met last Wednesday in their fourth game, Telkom Orange ran away with a lone goal victory. After the match, GRA Ladies captain, Monica Sewell-Grant, vowed to avenge defeat if they met again and last Saturday’s final provided a perfect opportunity for the Ghanaian ladies to exact revenge and claim the continental title.

The first three quarters lived up to expectations, as both sides stringed their passes beautifully, attacked and created numerous scoring opportunities but met unyielding goalkeepers who repulsed all attacks.

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In one of their attacks in the 55th minute of the last quarter, Lydia pounced on a loose ball, weaved it around a number of Telkom Orange defenders before flicking the ball forcefully into the vital area of the opponents, but it was pushed back into play.

A thorn in the flesh of the Kenyans, Lydia again pounced another loose ball seconds later, laid a neat pass to Roberta who struck it home with power and precision for the match winner and championship-winning goal to hand GRA Ladies their maiden continental trophy.

The men’s final followed a similar uncompromising pattern between two Egyptian rival familiar with each other’s play, until Al Sayed connected a 44rh minute short corner which enabled EL Sharkia to wrest the African cup from their compatriots.

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Earlier last Friday, Police Ladies of Ghana defeated KADA Queens of Nigeria 3-1 on penalties to win the bronze medal, while GRA defeated compatriots Trustees 3-2 on penalties to win the bronze medal in the men’s competition.

It was double victory for GRA Ladies’ Mavis Berko who was adjudged the Best Female Player of the tournament, with Telkom Orange goalkeeper Cynthia Onyango Akinyi winning the Best Goalkeeper of the tournament.

Nafisatu Umaru of Police Ladies won the Top Scorer award in the female category.

Similarly, it was double joy for El Sharkia’s Mohamed Ahmed Ezz who was named the Best Player of the tournament in addition to winning the championship trophy.