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Sendzul’s hattrick not enough as SA takes silver in Malaysia

By Avuyile Sawula , in Hockey | Featured Hockey | News , at 2023-11-27

South African captain Reuben Sendzel netted three times in the Mirnawan Cup final.
South African captain Reuben Sendzel netted three times in the Mirnawan Cup final.

South Africa’s quest for top honours in the u17 Dato Mirnawan Cup in Malaysia came up just short when they fell 3-4 to a ruthless India in the final on the weekend.

Meanwhile, the girls’ team finished in fourth spot, after they went down 0-2 to India in the 3rd/4th place playoff.

The boys’ side entered the final high in confidence after recording some impressive performances during the week.

After losing their opening match 2-3 against Australia, they bounced back to crushed Malaysia A and Malaysia B before playing to a thrilling 3-3 draw with India in the round-robin stages.

That meant coach Justin Collin’s team had scored 21 goals in three matches, making them the top scorers from the round robin matches. They looked deadly in front of goal and committed in the midfield and at the back.

The final was, however, always going to be a different kettle of fish and that proved to be the case from the onset with South Africa put under pressure from the start.

India went onto the offensive from the start, asserting their gameplan early on. They were assertive and brutal in front of goal, striking three times in the first two chukkas to take a 3-0 lead into the break.

There appeared to be no way back for South Africa, but their fighting spirit came to the fore after half-time as they took the game to India.

Skipper Reuben Sendzul, who plies his trade at Paul Roos Gymnasium, was the catalyst, netting a hattrick to level at 3-3.

However, having evened the scores, a lapse in concentration allowed the Indians, who reportedly fielded an u16 side, a golden opportunity from a penalty corner with just under three minutes to play. The pounced, taking the lead again at 4-3, and held on to take the gold medal.

Narrowly beaten but unbowed, the South African u17 national hockey team.
Narrowly beaten but unbowed, the South African u17 national hockey team.

Standout players

What the week-long tournament revealed, from a South African standpoint, is that boys’ hockey is in good hands and in a healthy state.

The South African, with minimal time to train as a unit before the event, showed up, quickly fostered team cohesion, and displayed many examples of individual brilliance.

SACS’s Litha Kraai, one of the most promising young talents in the country, scooped up the Player of the Tournament accolade for his superb contributions to his team.

Kraai marshalled the midfield and was also a goal-scoring threat, getting onto the scoresheet against Australia and Malaysia during the week.

However, the Top Goal Scorer went the way of South Africa’s skilful captain, Sendzul.

Leading from the front, he twice notched hattricks, firstly against Malaysia B, and then again in the final against India.

Others who caught the eye included Lethabo Bongacwi from Durban High School, who claimed the Man of the Match accolade in their first match against Australia.

James Grieve’s performance against Malaysia B saw him take the award, while it was Matthew Mendes De Oliveira’s turn against – Malaysia A, and Ruard Booysen’s in the 3-3 draw against India.

In other results, Malaysia A restored some pride, playing in their home tournament, by beating Australia 4-3 in the 3rd/4th place playoff.

Full results:

South Africa 2-3 Australia
South Africa 11-1 Malaysia B
South Africa 7-0 Malaysia A
South Africa 3-3 India
South Africa 3-4 India

Overall standings:

India – Gold medal
South Africa – Silver medal
Malaysia A- Bronze medal
Australia – Fourth place
Malaysia B- Fifth place

error: Sorry ol' chap, those shenanigans are not permissible.