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Damons on her wonder goal

“It’s like something out of a dream,” said Investec South Africa’s wonder girl Sulette Damons of her miraculous winner that earned her country an upset 2-1 victory over Spain in an emotion-charged match at the BDO FIH Hockey World Cup for women in Rosario, Argentina late on Tuesday night.

Spain are ranked eighth in the world to Investec South Africa’s 12th – a significant difference in world hockey – and Investec South Africa head coach Giles Bonnet’s side went into the crucial Pool B encounter as clear underdogs.

Speaking to SA Hockey World’s Jon Cook from her Rosario hotel room, the modest 20-year-old striker could hardly contain herself. “It’s the highlight of my career so far,” said Damons of her exquisite, chest-high deflection goal.

Nine minutes from the end the industrious South Africa captain Marsha Marescia had unreeled a visionary, yet high reverse-stick through ball, which the University of North West student expertly steered into the top corner of the near-post net.

“My first goal in my second match for Investec South Africa, and a goal that gave the team three points; what more could I ask for,” she said rhetorically. “It was a fantastic team effort and the girls are so chuffed that we were able to give Giles a win and Jen a 150th to remember,” Damons added.

It was South Africa forward Jen Wilson of the KZN Coastal Raiders’ 150th international match for her country.

“The energy and commitment of these girls is contagious,” a satisfied Bonnet said afterwards. “They are sticking to the gameplan and have bought into what we are doing; and most importantly their motivation is coming from within.”

Premier South Africa goalscorer Pietie Coetzee opened the scoring from a penalty corner for her record 18th career goal in 18 World Cup matches and a scarcely believable 192nd goal in 196 Test matches to date. Spain replied with a top-class penalty corner variation netted by captain Nuria Camon for the teams to go into half-time on level terms. And then it was the Damons show.

But the scoreline doesn’t even begin to tell the story of a thrilling match in which two- and five-minute sin-bin suspensions came thick and fast. The facts speak for themselves. South Africa had 68% of possession, 16 circle entries to five, seven penalty corners to five and an overwhelming 12 shots at goal to Spain’s one.

“It was the confidence with which Lesle-Ann George, Cindy Botha, Kim Hubach, Marcelle Keet and company played that impressed me,” said SA convenor of selectors Mickey Gordon in a phone call from Rosario.

The victory saw Investec South Africa jump three places in the six-team Pool B and Thursday they tackle world number three and 2008 Beijing Olympic Games silver medallists China, who will be desperate for a win after losing their first two matches.

The key clash will be live on SuperSport 5 at 7.30 pm with repeats Friday and Saturday, heading into South Africa’s match-up with the old enemy in England, who have a match-winner in last year’s KZN Coastal Raiders star Crista Cullen.


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