Madibaz women need strong hockey league finish

JULY 28, 2016

CAPTION: The talented Ignatius Malgraff will have an important part to play for the Madibaz in their remaining premier league matches. 

The NMMU-Madibaz women’s hockey team will be looking for a strong finish to their season when they play defending champions Gelvan Tornados in their final match at the south campus on Saturday.

Under coach Dalan Phillips, the Madibaz have had an excellent season, winning eight and drawing two of their matches to have an outside chance of snatching the league title.

The problem facing the Madibaz is that the Tornados have been equally successful, with eight wins and a draw in their nine matches. That has placed the sides level on 39 points as the season draws to a close, but the champions have the advantage of a game in hand.

To have chance of winning the league, the Madibaz would have to beat the Tornados on Saturday and earn a bonus point, not an easy task against a quality side with whom they drew 2-2 in the first half.

Phillips acknowledged that they faced a difficult situation.

“Our plan was to go through the season unbeaten and to try to take the title. But we know that will not be easy now and all we are focused on is doing well in our final game against the Tornados.

“They have a match in hand and so have the advantage, but we will just do our best and then see what happens.”

Due to a number of breaks in their league programme, the Madibaz premier men’s team still have five matches to play.

A loss against the Gelvan Hurricanes last weekend has hurt their chances, but coach Cheslyn Gie said they had not given up hope in the title race.

“We were without the services of five key players who were out injured and not available for the Hurricanes match,” he said.

“It was always going to be challenging to remain competitive without the bulk of our first team squad available.”

Gie said he was hopeful one or two of them could return for this weekend’s key games against the Hurricanes on Saturday and Old Grey on Sunday.

“We managed to get a bonus point by losing only 3-2 to the Hurricanes and we will take it match by match from now on,” he said.

“This is an important weekend for us and if we manage to do well in the two matches, we could still have an outside chance in the league race.”

The unbeaten Hurricanes top the log with 27 points from seven games, followed by Lakeside Cavaliers with 24 points from seven games. The Madibaz lie third with 15 points from five games and two good performances this weekend could see them close the gap.