The national senior hockey side, the Black Sticks, defeated their Nigerian counterparts 3-1 in the final of the JEA Mills Memorial Tourney, to give the late president a befitting first anniversary at the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
The visitors, who replaced Kenya at the last minute, fought bravely to overturn the 5-0 mauling they suffered in the opening game against the hosts.
However, the more determined Ghanaians pinned them to their own half in most parts of the game, which suffered a close-to-10-minutes break due to goalkeeper Yemi Siyanbola’s injury after the break.
Winger Joseph Appiah opened the scoring from a melee 12 minutes into the game. They multiplied in attack to increase the tally but the Nigerians proved resolute till the end of the first half.
The exit of Nigeria’s safest pair of hands, Yemi, following injuries in both halves, amplified their woes. His substitute, Freem Eankundayo started well with some brilliant saves, but could not sustain his spirited performance, allowing Ernest Opoku and Benedict Sam to increase the home side’s tally to three from penalty corners in the 52nd and 64th minutes.
The visitors pulled a consolation goal through Ogenevo Umukoro, four minutes to the end of the game, and the brightest spot in the team Michael Agbaegbu nearly added his name to the score sheet, but his slap failed to hit the target.
President of the Ghana Hockey Association Oko Nikoi Dzani appealed to the authorities to implement the late President Mills’s vision of constructing two water-based stadiums at Legon and Kumasi, in order to develop and grow the sport. He promised to annualize the event.
Youth and Sports Minister Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah commended the organizers for the international event in honour of the late Law Professor and promised to help develop the sport.
Sapholder won the seniors event, while NDK Financiers placed second. The senior national ladies side, the Black Sticks Ladies grabbed the ultimate prize in the ladies event, with Accra XI finishing second.
The winners received trophies for their efforts.
Source: Kofi Owusu Aduonum
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