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Semi-Final disappointment for SA in opening match

The South African national men’s team have gone down in their first match of the FIH Hockey World League Semi-Final losing 2-0 to Ireland.

Ireland have lost only one match in 2017 and even though it was a close game all around, the visitors looked very sharp and in control most of the time.

The halftime score was 1-0 to Ireland after a goal by Matthew Nelson in the ninth minute. South Africa ended the second chukka with a flurry of opportunities. In the minutes leading up to halftime the home team got three penalty corners and came very close to scoring, but Irish goalkeeper David Harte showed why he is known as one of the best keepers in the world.

Shane O’Donoghue scored the second goal for Ireland from a penalty corner. This was probably the big difference on the day: Ireland scored a goal from their three corners, while the South Africans could not convert any of their five penalty corners.

Captain Tim Drummond afterwards said the team will keep on working to improve all aspects of the game. ‘It was a tough day, but we did create chances and we can take positives from the match. We pride ourselves on our penalty corners, we do have a really strong battery and we will work on it as always. Our defence is also crucial. It is important to build confidence and keep on improving.’

Drummond added: ‘We would like to thank the fans for coming out. It really does make a difference and we hope to see them again.’

South Africa conceded some 50 turnovers and Ireland 45. Circle penetrations were also very similar with 25 to 27. South Africa had 51% of the possession.

Ireland, coached by former South Africa national player and last year’s FIH coach of the year Craig Fulton, are ninth on the world rankings and South Africa 15th.

South Africa’s next match is on Thursday against Germany at 6pm. The men are in the same group as Ireland, Germany, Egypt and Belgium.

The South African women’s team drew 0-0 with India in their opening Semi-Final clash. South Africa are in the same group as Argentina, USA, India and Chile. The SA women’s next game is on Wednesday against Argentina at 6pm.

All matches in the Hockey World League Semi-Final are played at the Wits Hockey Astro in Johannesburg. Twenty of the world’s best men and women’s national teams will take part in these Hockey World Cup 2018 qualifiers until 23 July.

Tickets for the event can be purchased online at http://hockeyworldleague.nutickets.co.za/HWL

All matches are broadcast live on SuperSport.

In the picture Ireland’s John Jackson of Ireland gets airborne against SA’s Owen Mvimbi of South Africa. Photo courtesy of Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images

 


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