Brave Proteas pipped | SASCOC - SASCOC

Brave Proteas pipped

Lesle-Anne George got South Africa off to a flying start with a goal in the third minute but it was still not be as our girls went down 4-3 to India in the ninth/10th place play-off at the Hockey World Cup for women in Argentina on Friday night evening.

Investec South Africa were stunned by Rani Rampal’s double whammy brace of goals in the space of a minute shortly after George’s goal but still managed to go into the halftime break 2-2 after Vida Ryan hauled them back into contention.

Immediately after the break Saba Anjum put the Asians back into the lead (3-2) before veteran Pietie Coetzee equalised with a stunning penalty corner, but it was Jasjeet Handa who scored the winner as the match entered its final quarter.

South Africa will feel aggrieved that a penalty corner was not awarded in the last minute but India just about deserved their win. And South African can still feel they’ve made progress since Giles Bonnet took over the coaching reins earlier this year. They ended the tournament in 10th spot, two spots above their world ranking.

Rampal, who looks a lot older than her alleged 15 years, had picked up her sixth goal of the tournament.

It was SA forward Cindy Botha’s birthday, but India were in no mood for South African celebrations and a slick move up the right wing set up their fourth penalty corner, which was poorly executed.

Despite her team’s basic skills not being on the same level as in the previous five matches, Investec SA captain Marsha Marescia got through mountains of work in midfield and was perpetual motion up, down and across the field.

Her example was followed and Marcelle Keet took advantage of a turnover to nail an inch-perfect cross that the alert Ryan deflected home for the equaliser eight minutes from half-time.

Lenise Marais and Lisa Deetlefs in defence had come to Investec South Africa’s rescue on a number of occasions and the Africans would need it in the second half as India immediately won their fifth penalty corner, with none against, and Anjum had shot the Asians back into the lead just two minutes after the break.

Midway through the second half Handa finished clinically to give India a two-goal cushion. Soon after, Marescia won South Africa’s first penalty corner and world hockey legend Coetzee, who was the leading goalscorer at the 2002 World Cup in Perth, made no mistake with a stunning drag-flick for the forward’s fourth 2010 World Cup in her 199th Test match.

In the last couple of minutes a flurry of shots led to Coetzee’s cross being brilliantly deflected in by Dirkie Chamberlain, but on India’s video appeal the potential equaliser was turned down by Dutch umpire Stella Bartlema.

These two Commonwealth Games countries meet again in Delhi when the four-yearly event begins in just under three weeks’ time and both teams will be heartened that they finished above their world rankings.