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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.

SA rebound from a terrible start 0

Posted on August 17, 2022 by Ken

The South African women’s hockey team rebounded from a terrible start to their crunch World Cup match against Japan on Tuesday night, salvaging a remarkable 3-3 draw from 3-0 down with 20 minutes remaining to avoid elimination from quarterfinal contention in Terrassa, Spain.

Having conceded two goals in the first eight minutes, South Africa then went 3-0 down three minutes into the second half. Hesitant on the ball and porous in defence, the African champions’ hopes were faltering.

But they then fought back superbly with Onthatile Zulu giving the Japanese defence a torrid time with her attacking runs down the flank. South Africa were on the board in the 37th minute through Kristen Paton’s reflex shot after a rebound from Kayla de Waal’s strike.

The team sitting in 16th spot on the world rankings continued to pile pressure on the 10th-ranked Japanese in the final quarter, with another fine run by Zulu earning a 54th-minute penalty corner. Jean-Leigh du Toit’s slap was brilliantly guided in by Tarryn Lombard to cut the deficit to 1-2.

With two minutes remaining, Zulu won another short corner and Lombard steered the ball home again to complete a remarkable comeback.

“We started very slowly and conceding two goals in the first quarter really set us back,” stalwart goalkeeper Phumelela Mbande said afterwards. “We did well to come back, we knew we were never out of it, but it took pure grit and determination.

“We knew what it meant if we lost, now we are still in it, which we wanted so badly. We will fight even harder against Australia,” Mbande said.

South Africa and Japan both have one point in the standings, but the Cherry Blossoms are currently in third place in Pool D, the last qualifying spot, because they have a goal-difference of minus-two compared to South Africa’s minus-three.

South Africa have conceded seven goals and scored four, and if they can somehow prevent making it an octoplet of shots into the back of their net against Australia in the late game on Wednesday night, then they could pip Japan on goal-difference because they play Belgium, who beat Giles Bonnet’s side 4-1 last weekend.

Bit low-key, but SA another women’s team enters World Cup combat 0

Posted on August 11, 2022 by Ken

It’s all a bit low-key, but another South African women’s sport enters into World Cup combat this weekend as Giles Bonnet’s hockey team take on Belgium on Sunday in their opening match in Terrassa, Spain.

South Africa, ranked a lowly 15th in the world, are in Pool D with Australia, Belgium and Japan, with the top side qualifying directly for the quarterfinals and the second and third-placed teams going into cross-pool playoffs to make the final eight.

Belgium, ranked second in the world in men’s hockey, may be an understated force in the women’s game, but they are No.5 in the world and the game has made great strides with the ladies in that north-western European kingdom as well. Bonnet had much to do with the growth of Belgium into a global force, coaching the men’s side for seven years.

With Australia being the third-ranked team in the world, it is crucial South Africa try and take some points off Belgium and 10th-ranked Japan if they are to make the quarterfinals.

It is South Africa’s seventh consecutive appearance at the World Cup and Bonnet, back as coach for the first time since 2014, has chosen a squad featuring a number of Olympians, including Lisa Deetlefs, a veteran of three Games who has reversed her decision to retire from international hockey.

Bernadette Coston, who played in the 2012 London Olympics under Bonnet, who guided them to 10th place, is also included.

Jean-Leigh du Toit, Kayla de Waal and Christa Ramasimong were members of the SA Junior World Cup team that performed admirably in Potchefstroom to secure a seventh place finish and will also have the remarkable honour of playing in two FIH World Cups within six months.

“I have seen tremendous effort and energy from the team since my return to the post,” Bonnet said. “We know we face a tough challenge at the World Cup against some superb opponents, but we are excited for the opportunity.

“I am really pleased with the team we have put together, there is a healthy mixture of youth and experience. We believe that we have the right tools at our disposal to compete against the best.”

With half of the tournament being played on their home turfs in Amstelveen, the prices are low that the Netherlands will complete a hat-trick of World Cup titles, although Argentina have form behind them, having won the recent FIH Pro League and they have appeared in five finals before.

South Africa play Japan on Tuesday and then Australia on Wednesday.

SA squad –Quanita Bobbs, Marizen Marais, Erin Christie, Phumelela Mbande, Bernadette Coston, Edith Molikoe, Kayla de Waal, Kristen Paton, Lisa-Marie Deetlefs, Hannah Pearce, Lilian du Plessis, Christa Ramasimong, Jean-Leigh du Toit, Nepo Serage, Robyn Johnson, Shindre-Lee Simmons, Tarryn Lombard, Bianca Wood, Hanrie Louw, Onthatile Zulu.

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    John 15:16 – “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”

    Our Christian experience begins when the Holy Spirit starts working in our imperfect lives. An inexplicable restlessness and a feeling that nothing can give you the satisfaction you yearn for, could be the Spirit working in you.

    Even when God calls you and chooses you to serve him, there may be inner conflict and confusion because you are not always willing to do what God is asking of you.

    But this inner struggle is part of spiritual life … Commit yourself to God and open yourself to the inflowing of the Holy Spirit.

    It is by great grace that you were chosen by God to serve him and to live to the honour and glory of his name. Surrender unconditionally to the Lord and you will discover that your life gains new meaning and purpose.

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