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Sports News of Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Hockey: Nsalbini, Akaba retire from national team

The skipper of the national male hockey team, Salya Nsalbini, and his deputy, Elikem Akaba, have announced their retirement from national duty with immediate effect.
The decision was taken after the two players had played against Egypt in the last match of the Tokyo 2020 Africa qualifier, which saw Ghana losing 1-3.

Nsalbini featured in all five matches for Ghana during the qualifier, scoring the match winner in their opening match against Kenya and a hat-trick against Namibia in the second match.

Akaba also hit a brace in Ghana’s 4-3 victory over Zimbabwe in their last match on Sunday August 18

The Ghanaian side, however, suffered a major setback when they lost 1-9 in their third match against defending champions, South Africa, and lost 1-3 to Egypt, before recovering to beat Zimbabwe 4-3 on Sunday.

Explaining why he decided to announce his retirement in South Africa instead of Accra, Nsalbini said having played his first international match against South Africa 14 years ago, he felt it was important to announce his retirement in South Africa, especially after failing to help Ghana to clinch the sole ticket to represent Africa in next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo.

“I am announcing my retirement from the national team, together with the deputy skipper, Elikem Akaba. I still have the strength to forge ahead, but I really have to give the young ones the chance to exhibit their talents.

“It has been 14 years of wearing the national colours, and I am of the view that the time has come for me to hang my stick because I have played my part,” skipper Nsalbini explained during an interview with Graphic Sports Online.

Recalling his most disappointing moment in the national team, he said that happened two years ago in Ismailia in Egypt when Ghana failed to wrest the continental trophy from South Africa.

“My most disappointing moment in the team was in Egypt two years ago. It was a very disappointing tournament because I felt we were almost there but we couldn’t,” he recounted.

According to Nsalbini, the team failed to win the tournament not because they did not have a good team, “but because we lacked more competitive and international matches, as well as the requisite motivation to excel in such tournaments”.

On why they lost heavily to South Africa and also failed to break the jinx surrounding their chain of defeats to Egypt, he said prior to their match against South Africa, they were presented with $200 as “take home allowances”.

“It happened the night before we played against South Africa. It really affected all the players because I believe the timing was totally wrong, but it was unfortunate that we lost heavily because we played our hearts out in that match,” he explained.