In a thrilling finale that mirrored the Men’s Team Relay event, the Individual Men’s and Women’s Triples event, the sole qualifying event for the World Beach Games in Bali, Indonesia, lived up to its expectations, bringing the 2023 ANOC World Beach Games AirBadminton African Qualification to an exhilarating close.
Seeking redemption after a narrow loss to Nigeria in the Team Event, South Africa secured a spot in the finals by defeating a determined Zambian Team 3-0 in five intense matches. Nigeria, too, showcased their dominance by comfortably surpassing the highly regarded Mauritius team with an identical scoreline, setting the stage for a mouth-watering clash in the finals.
Having previously faced each other in the group stages of the Mixed Team Relay and the finals, South Africa wasted no time in taking the lead in the first game. However, Habeeb Bello proved to be a thorn in South Africa’s side, executing remarkable diving defensive moves to deny them the first game, eventually securing a hard-fought 13-12 victory.
Undeterred, South Africa swiftly gained momentum in the second game, convincingly dispatching Nigeria 11-6 to level the score at 1-1. The third game was a nerve-racking affair, with both teams acutely aware of the importance of securing the crucial advantage. The Tunisian za’har (luck) favoured South Africa as they edged out the Nigerians at the wire with a 13-10 win, taking a 2-1 lead.
The fourth game was no different, with the Nigerians unleashing everything they had, but the resilient South Africans held their ground, determined to make history and secure the coveted slot to represent Africa at the World Beach Games for the first time. At 10-10, it seemed as though fate favoured the Nigerians, but the spirited efforts of Cameron Coetzer, supported by their Team Manager Brenda Boshoff on the side-lines, emotionally urging them on, made a crucial difference. This enabled South Africa to secure the next 2 vital points, clinching the game 12-10 and sealing a resounding 3-1 victory. Mauritius and Zambia settled for the Bronze Medals.
“It is such a joyous occasion for us said an emotional Brenda. We didn’t expect to win especially after earlier losing to Nigeria in the Men’s Team Relay but I told the team to believe in themselves. We shall build from this experience and train even harder to represent Africa well in the World Beach Games”
In the Semi-finals of the Individual Women’s Triples, the dark horses of the tournament, Benin, delivered a stunning 3-0 victory against the mighty Nigeria. However, in the finals match against the South African trio of Jabu Gininda, Cayleen Miller, and Diane Olivier, Benin stumbled right from the start, losing the first game 1-11. The Cheetahs’ trio, consisting of Anna Gladys Akakpo, Pernelle Nirmala Fabossou, and Flora Kpogbemabo, who were considered underdogs in the tournament, regained their momentum to show why they were the favourites among the fans, claiming the second game 11-5. With the score tied at 1-1, the beginning of the third game became a seesaw battle, with neither team allowing the other to establish a significant lead. However, the South Africans displayed more consistent performance, making fewer errors and capitalizing on Jabu’s attacking skills to secure an 11-9 victory in the third game. Deflated after losing the third game, the Cheetahs had nothing more to offer and succumbed in the fourth game with a score of 6-11, effectively ending their dream run to become Africa’s representatives at the World Beach Games. South Africa’s Men’s and Women’s Triples teams will now proudly represent Africa in Bali. Nigeria and Algeria settled for the bronze medals.
In the Mixed Doubles finals event, Nigeria showcased their prowess by outclassing Benin with a 3-0 victory, securing the gold medal. Benin settled for the silver medal, while South Africa claimed the Bronze.
For a detailed overview of the day’s complete results, please follow the link below.