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Ken Borland

SA scrape through to knockouts, only a single goal in it 0

Posted on August 17, 2022 by Ken

South Africa scraped through to the knockout round of the Women’s Hockey World Cup by a single goal on Wednesday night as pool-toppers Australia only managed to beat them 2-1 in Terrassa.

The phenomenal defensive effort by South Africa meant they finished with a goal-difference of minus-four, compared to Japan’s minus-five after they had earlier lost 3-0 to Belgium.

Although South Africa conceded a seventh-minute penalty corner goal, they were relieved to finish the first quarter on level terms at 1-1 thanks to some fine saves by goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande and a superb short-corner drag-flick goal by Lilian du Plessis.

The African champions had few opportunities in the second quarter and conceded another penalty corner goal to go 2-1 down at halftime.

Australia started the second half well but fired wide at a penalty stroke, a massive moment that seemed to disconnect the world’s number three ranked side, despite their dominance of possession and being awarded several penalty corners.

This scrappiness was advantageous for South Africa and they created a couple of chances early in the final quarter. Knowing that as things stood they were in the crossover playoffs, they showed excellent game-management to close out the match with a pleasing result, considering the last time they played Australia they lost 7-1.

South Africa will now take on Germany on Saturday at 5pm in Amsterdam for a place in the quarterfinals for the first time since finishing seventh in 1998 in Utrecht, Netherlands.

As pool winners, Australia and the Netherlands have both qualified directly for the quarterfinals. Fellow Pool D qualifiers Belgium will face Chile in the knockout round.

Pool B is wide open with New Zealand, China and India all able to finish first and go straight into the final eight, while Argentina will seal top spot in Pool C if they beat winless Canada.

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