The Zimbabwe national men and women’s hockey teams capped off a memorable week in the Central-South Africa Qualifiers after clinching gold medals in their respective categories at the St John’s Educational Trust Astro-turf in Harare on Sunday.
Heading into their respective finals on Sunday both teams had already secured their places at next year’s African Games to be held in Ghana, but they went ahead to do it in style by clinching gold.
Zimbabwe Ladies win gold beating Namibia 1-0. Goal scored by Natasha Hess. Makorokoto@AfrHockey @sandsportlive@ZimbabweSrc @ZimSports @SportsRifle pic.twitter.com/59UnaQ78V1
— Zimhockey (@zimhockey) September 4, 2022
In the first final of the afternoon, the Zimbabwe women’s side continued their steady rise on the international hockey scene by edging Namibia 1-0 in a hard-fought final to be crowned the winners of the Central-South Africa Qualifying tournament.
It was a memorable day for 37-year-old Zimbabwe hockey star Natasha Hess as she retired from international hockey in style by scoring the only goal of the match to inspire the local ladies’ team to victory.
The win meant the Zimbabwe women’s team which early this year finished a creditable fourth at the Hockey Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana completed the regional qualifying competition with an unblemished record.
They kicked off the competition with a 2-2 draw against Namibia last Thursday before thumping Malawi 11-0 in their second match two days later before closing the competition on a high with a win against Namibia on Sunday.
There was also a fairy tale finish for the Zimbabwe men’s hockey team as former captain Tendai ‘Redz’ Maredza capped off his remarkable international career on a high by inspiring the hosts to an impressive 3-2 win over their higher-ranked neighbours Zambia in the men’s final.
Another well-deserved victory for the Zimbabwe Men's Hockey National team in the final of the Central South Africa Qualifiers. They managed to win 3-2 against Zambia today. pic.twitter.com/p6Gbcfr6Os
— SRC Zimbabwe (@ZimbabweSrc) September 4, 2022
Maredza a utility player who is comfortable both in defence and in attack played a dual role for the Zimbabwe team.
He started in defence, where he successfully nullified the threat posed by the dangerous Zambian captain Philimon Bwali before later moving up front, where he was involved in the build-up to Zimbabwe’s last gasp winning goal which was scored by Tapiwa Mushayakarara.
Zimbabwe’s captain and Brad Heuer was the man of the match after putting on a scintillating performance in front of goal to keep the hosts in the game as Zambia threatened in the latter stages of the match.
The win was sweet revenge for the Zimbabwe men’s team, who lost via a similar score line to Zambia in the group stages before bouncing back with a 6-1 win over Malawi to book their place in the final.