Early in the tournament teams had to endure cold and uncomfortable weather earlier in the week, but a perfect summers day in Pretoria welcomed the two teams out for the final. If the weather was perfect for hockey, the start was even better as Thati Zulu won an early penalty corner and Tarryn Lombard converted with a touch from a Quanita Bobbs effort.
A brilliant set up by Kristen Paton put Ntsopa Mokoena through but Martha Uko, who has been superb in this tournament, pulled off a great save. There was not much she could do when Thati Zulu’s goal bound effort was also diverted in by Lombard once again.
The South Africans made it 3-0 early in the second quarter when Jean-Leigh du Toit netted almost a trademark drag flick from a penalty corner as the Nigerian women appeared helpless to deny the South Africa. It was nearly four for South Africa when Thati Zulu struck the post as it felt like a matter of when the fourth goal would come and it did just minutes later as Zulu fed Bobbs who turned and struck it home sweetly.
Things got even better for the South Africans as they stormed into the half time break with another two goals and a place at Paris all but confirmed.
That confirmation received further backing in the third quarter with a hat-trick completing deflection from Tarryn Lombard before Paris-Gail Isaacs scored her first international goal for the country getting on the rebound of her own shot to make it 8-0.
Kristen Paton added the final cherry on top of a brilliant cake as the South Africans wrapped up the victory 9-0, completing the tournament without conceding a goal.
Player of the match in the final Tarryn Lombard was delighted with her role in the victory:
“Scoring a goal in the final is stuff of dreams, let alone a hat-trick. I’m absolutely stoked with the performance. We are incredibly pleased to qualify for the Olympic Games, the hard work starts here and I can’t wait to get started.”
African Hockey Road to Paris 2024 Qualifier – Final Standings
- South Africa