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SA hockey sides go down to World/Olympic champions
- Updated: June 2, 2014
Reigning World Cup champions Argentina beat the world No11 Investec South Africa women’s hockey team 4-1 after leading 2-0 at half-time at The Hague, Netherlands on Sunday, reports Jon Cook.
This match in the 2014 edition of the four-yearly showpiece saw the final scoreline reflect the world champions’ dominance but there were enough positive moments that will encourage the girls in green and gold to look forward to Tuesday’s 10.30am second match when they take on Germany.
At the other end Ilse Davids hit a backhand across goal but Argentina survived the threat. SA keeper Anelle van Deventer was called into action in the fifth minute before Lisa Deetlefs made a vital intervention deep in the Argentina strike zone.
In the 23rd Kelly Madsen came close to opening the scoring with a neat flick of the wrists but world-class keeper Belen Succi was alert to the danger At the other end Argentine flair brought a fifth PC in the 26th and Carla Rebecchi smashed the ball into the backboard to Van Deventer’s right for the opening goal (1-0).
On a roll, the South Americans champs won a sixth PC and Silvina D’Elia’s powerful shot wrong-footed Van Deventer for 2-0 in the 27th.
After the break Aymar went on an incisive run and Delfina Merino won her side’s eighth PC following a video referral and a slip-pass left to Noel Barrionuevo saw the corner specialist fire low into the corner of the goals past Van Deventer’s outstretched left leg for 3-0 in the 39th minute.
Argentina brought more joy to their fans when Rebecchi fired in their fourth goal in the 59th with a rasping shot that deflected off the keeper’s body into the net but SA pulled one back immediately when Bright made a superb deflection goal (4-1) just after the hour mark (61st minute).
Earlier, the world’s 12th-ranked South Africa men’s hockey team were beaten 4-0 by back-to-back Olympic champions and world number two side Germany after the Europeans had led 2-0 at half-time in the World Cup.
SA head coach Fabian Gregory was encouraged by his side’s performance and praised goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse, pictured right, for the number of fine saves he made, while the mentor was somewhat disappointed in his forwards’ inability to make more of opportunities created upfront, particularly in the first half.
That said, Germany keeper Nicolas Jacobi was called on to make the first two (very good) saves of the match. German head coach and multiple gold medal winner Markus Weise was complimentary of the South Africans’ performance and said he didn’t feel comfortable until Germany went 3-0 up near the hour mark.
ÔÇ£I am relieved South Africa did not win any penalty corners but the match was never easy ,ÔÇØ said Weise., while Gregory commented that the German defence did ÔÇ£exceptionally well in one-on-one situationsÔÇØ to prevent PCs, one of the men in green and gold’s biggest weapons.
The match was tempestuous at times with the German markers appearing to do much pushing and shoving , one such moment leading to Clint Panther’s annoyed reaction and a two-minute sin-binning by Indian umpire Raghu Prasad, who had to intervene on a number of occasions as things got ugly.
SA felt particularly aggrieved at some of Australian umpire Tim Pullman’s decisions, the penalty awarded, as well as other calls in defence that went against South Africa, while an outraged Taine Paton was bundled off the ball and not awarded what appeared to be a straightforward PC decision.
World number two Germany were definitely the better side, quite rightly so considering their pedigree and long association as a group of players ÔÇô┬áand taking into account they were playing the world’s 12th-ranked team who as a group of 18 had only been together for two weeks ÔÇô and with a coach who got the job just four months ago.
ÔÇ£I am not one for excuses, we look forward and don’t focus on the uncontrollables,ÔÇØ said Gregory.┬áÔÇ£This tournament still has a long way to go, there are still four [Group B] matches left.ÔÇØ
The coach said Monday would be ÔÇ£a full training dayÔÇØ and a focus point would be to work on closing down the diagonals balls from the left and right that cut the SA defence up. ÔÇ£We also need to work on keeping the ball and not playing in the same channel for too long.ÔÇØ
Pieterse’s heroics enabled SA to weather the storm during periods of German control while resolute defending at the back gave South Africa the opportunity to create attacks on the breakout. The weak link was the connectivity between the strikers and the midfield and defensive lines, numerous chances breaking down to early.
ÔÇ£We competed well in the first 25 minutes,ÔÇØ said Gregory. ÔÇ£I felt that if we had not conceded that second goal [20 seconds from half-time] it would have given us more impetus going into the second half.ÔÇØ
Gregory said the defence was ‘much-improved from the recent past when SA have started so badly against the 2008 and 2012 Olympic champs they were three-to-four goals down by half-timeÔÇØ.
Germany scored through Christopher Zeller from the penalty spot in the 27th minute, a field goal on the half-time whistle by Thilo Stralkowski and second-half strikes from Mats Grambusch (56th minute) and Oliver Korn in the 59th.
Now it’s time to look towards Tuesday’s 2.30pm game against world number six Germany (live on SuperSport 7).
All 76 World Cup matches are live on SuperSport.