11 June 2014

South Africa: SA Playoff Ties Determined At Hockey World Cup

Playoff match-ups were decided at the Hockey World Cup in The Hague on Tuesday where the South African women's team went down 2-4 to the USA in an exciting, entertaining clash, while the men fell 1-5 to an on-fire Argentina.

There was cause for concern in the Investec South Africa women's team when England led Germany 3-0 in the penultimate Group B match.

The English, ranked third in the world, needed to beat world number six Germany by four clear goals in order to edge South Africa into the 11th and 12th place playoff for final classification in the four-yearly showpiece.

The Germans, however, managed to pull a goal back, and the 3-1 final score ensured that the South African women, who are ranked 11th in the world, will definitely finish the tournament in a position higher than their world ranking.

Women's playoff match

Giles Bonnet's charges will next meet world number nine Japan at 10:00 on Friday in the ninth and tenth place playoff.

At the 2012 London Olympic Games, the same teams met for ninth place, with the Japanese scoring a 2-1 win after extra time.

Against the USA on Tuesday, South Africa led the general statistics count but lost the match in the stat that really counts, goals for and against, in being defeated 4-2 by the tournament's surprise package. The USA finished pool play unbeaten and top of Group B to qualify for the semi-finals for the first time in 20 years.

Defensive errors punished

Equal goal shots, more penalty corners and similar entries into the scoring zone mattered little in the final analysis as the USA punished South Africa's defensive errors.

The thrilling match saw the USA go into half-time 1-0 up, with Caroline Nichols converting a penalty stroke.

South Africa hit back after the changeover when captain Marsha Cox rounded off a fine counter-attack, but the Americans were almost immediately back in front through Katie Reinprecht, following a penalty corner.

USA skipper Lauren Crandall then struck from another penalty stroke to give the North Americans a two-goal cushion once again.

South Africa pulled one back when Lisa Deetlefs slapped in a penalty corner, but the USA again restored their two-goal advantage 14 minutes from time from a penalty corner that was slotted by Rachel Dawson for the 4-2 final score.

Men's playoff match

Meanwhile, the South African men's side will play for 11th and 12th place - in keeping with their eventual 11th place win over India at London 2012 - in the 13:30 match on Thursday. They will tackle Group A's sixth-placed Malaysia.

There were some promising moments for the South African men in the second half against Argentina, who qualified for the semi-finals of the World Cup for the first time, but the South Americans' superior ability to connect with each other was crucial in their 5-1 win.

They led 2-0 at half-time and increased their lead to three goals before University of Johannesburg student Clint Panther scored one of the best goals of the tournament with a superb individual effort to pull the score back to 3-1 with 13 minutes left to play.

The classy Argentinians, however, found another gear to knock in two more goals by the final whistle.

The World Cup's leading goal-scorer Gonzalo Peillat netted a brace, as did Lucas Vila, who scored two breathtaking goals from field play, while Argentina's other successful strike came from Joaquin Menini.

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