Zimbabwe’s U21 Women’s Hockey Team defied the odds last night (26 March 2016) to beat Namibia 2-1 in Windhoek to qualify for a berth in the Hockey Junior World Cup to take place in Santiago, Chile in November. There were only two slots at the qualifiers in Windhoek for teams to advance. With undefeated South Africa taking the first spot, it remained for Zimbabwe and Namibia to battle for the second qualifying place. Zimbabwe had lost to Namibia 1-3 earlier in the tournament so knew that they were up against a challenging home team.
Zimbabwe’s Kelly Diplock made the first goal of the game and Namibia equalized, leaving the score 1-1 at the half. The second half was a nail biter, with the World Cup qualification riding on who could put in another goal. The victory came to Zimbabwe when Captain Stephanie Campbell sunk in the second goal, leaving the final score in Zimbabwe’s favor at 2-1.
Zimbabwe’s men’s team, some parents who accompanied the team and Zimbabweans based in Namibia, came out to give the U21 ladies rousing support.
The Zimbabwean U21s, comprising A level students and recent A level graduates, are elated, celebrating the history they are making. The last time Zimbabwe played in the Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup was in 2005, ironically also held in Santiago.
Though they have now qualified, Zimbabwe will face South Africa today (27 March 2016) in an Easter Sunday final of the tournament, with Namibia facing Tanzania to decide 3rd and 4th place.