All square in Japan | SASCOC - SASCOC

All square in Japan

South Africa and Japan were deadlocked at 0-0 in their crucial Olympic qualifying hockey match in Kakamigahara, Japan on Sunday morning, writes Mark Etheridge.

Twelfth-ranked South Africa and their 15th ranked hosts are fighting it out for the last remaining spot in the 2012 Games in London later this year.

The match swung from end to end in the first half with South Africa first to fire in a shot, via Marvin Haper which was comfortably saved by goalkeeper Nagaoki in the third minute.

Japan had the first penalty-corner opportunity in the 11th minute but Nagasawa’s shot didn’t bother goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse unduly.

The South Africans spent more time in the Japanese half and were patient in their build-up as the swift Japanese strikers had to rely largely on high balls out of defence.

With 10 minutes to go Japan had Katsuoyishi Nagasawa sent off for two minutes after an elbow in the back of one of the South Africans.

Five minutes to the hooter and South Africa had their first penalty corner crack and Andrew Cronje failed to convert. From the resulting follow-up corner Justin Reid-Ross had his scorching shot well saved by the keeper.

South Africa ended the half encamped in the Japanese half as they desperately sought to consolidate their dominance.