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Hockey Proteas go down to Italy in London

Italy beat the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team 3-1 in a penalty shootout and 4-2 overall after the full-time score was locked at 1-1 in the Investec World League play-off match in London on Saturday.

South Africa will now meet world No15 Spain in the seventh/eighth place playoff at 11.30am on Sunday. The match will be live on SuperSport HD4, writes Jon Cook.

The world’s 10-ranked USA beat Spain 3-1 in their play-off Sunday.

South Africa had 30 entries into the strike zone to Italy’s 16 in the match, had five penalty corners to three against, and had 12 goal shots to the Europeans’ seven, but despite the lion’s share of proceedings it was not to be.

Italy opened the scoring in the 27th minute when Giuliana Ruggieri converted a penalty stroke, the set-piece awarded after the umpires had adjudged a collision in the strike zone in the Italian’s favour.

Elisabetta Pacella hit the post a minute later, while there were plenty of opportunities for both sides in this hotly-contested match, Italian goalkeeper Martina Chirico in particular pulling off some super saves as South Africa came agonisingly close on a number of occasions.

SA piled on the pressure in the second half and the strain on the Italian defence was immense. Three green and two yellow cards, both yellows to captain Chiara Tiddi, were awarded to the Italians during the match and for 16 minutes in the second half they were down to nine players.

With 32 seconds left on the clock Pietie Coetzee netted the equaliser from South Africa’s fifth penalty corner and the match went into a penalty shootout. It was the world record goalscorer’s 276th goal in 272 Test matches.

Goalkeeper Chirico was superb for Italy while Ruggieri demonstrated her big-match temperament by scoring the decisive penalty shootout goal for the 3-1 shootout victory and the 4-2 final scoreline.

SA co-captain Lenise Marais said her team were very disappointed. ÔÇ£We made the goal right at the end to give ourselves a chance in the shootout, but we had many opportunities during the game.ÔÇØ

Marais said the positives were that the hockey had been competitive and now world No11 South Africa were going ÔÇ£full-outÔÇØ to qualify for the 2014 World Cup by winning the Africa Cup in Kenya in September/October.|

Italy head coach Fernando Ferrarra said the tournament was a great experience for his world 17th-ranked side. ÔÇ£We played very well and are very happy. In every game we have tried to match the higher-ranked team and the spirit is very high in the team.ÔÇØ

SCORERS
Regulation time: Italy (1) 1 (Giuliana Ruggieri) South Africa (0) 1 (Pietie Coetzee)

Penalty shootout: Italy 3 (Chiara Tiddi, Dalila Mirabella, Giuliana Ruggieri) South Africa 1 (Marsha Cox)

Final score: Italy 4 South Africa 2


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