South Africa opened their Women’s Hockey World League Semi-Finals campaign with a draining 0-0 draw against India, while Germany and USA both claimed victories on the opening day of the FIH tournament on Saturday in Johannesburg, as the teams set about their race to secure World Cup qualification.
Host nation South Africa (With a world-ranking of 13) and India (WR: 12) were in action in the final match of the day, with a large contingent of home fans enjoying an entertaining contest despite the scores finishing locked together at 0-0.
South Africa arguably had the better of the chances even had a goal ruled out by the video umpire, but India’s Eves were excellent in defence and deserved their share of the spoils.
Although she could not celebrate a win, the experience of the contest left an impression on Shelley Jones (formerly Russell). “It was absolutely fantastic to play in front of the home crowd tonight.
“There was huge roar every time we went forward, which was fantastic. It is a good point for us but we want to get as many as we can in the pool phase.”
The day’s action began in Pool A, where Ireland’s Green Army (WR: 15) produced a high quality display against Japan’s Cherry Blossoms (WR: 11), drawing 1-1 with their higher ranked opponents.
“It was an end to end game of hockey and either team could have gone away with all three points,” said Ireland captain Kate Mullan immediately after the game. “From that perspective it would have been nice to take all three points but when you step back and take a look at the rankings it was a good point to get.”
As with the opening game of the competition, Rio 2016 bronze medallists Germany (WR: 7) also waited until the third quarter in their Pool A match against Poland (WR: 18) before breaking the deadlock, with Elisa Gräve forcing home from close range seconds after Camile Nobis hit the frame of the Poland goal.
“Poland defended really well, it was hard for us”, said Hauke post-match. “‘I’m happy we won, but it wasn’t our best match. Hopefully on Monday we will produce a better performance against Ireland.”
In Pool B, Pan-American rivals USA (WR: 6) and Chile (WR: 20) played out an absorbing contest in which the Americans emerged narrow winners with a 1-0 score-line. Jill Witmer celebrated her 100th senior international appearance with the only goal of the game, although Chile gave a superb showing of themselves and look more than capable of challenging all of their opponents in this pool. “Chile have hugely improved, they were a real threat today”, said USA’s Michelle Vittese after the contest. “I’m pleased to get through it and start the competition with a victory.”
Photo 1 caption: The Private Property SA Women’s Hockey Team played out an agonising 0-all draw with India in their first match of the Women’s Hockey World League Semi-Finals at the Wits Hockey Club in Parktown, Johannesburg, on Saturday, 8 July, 2017. Image: Screengrab of Supersport10’s live broadcast of the match.
Photo 2 caption: SA set about their quest to secure World Cup qualification with wave after wave of attack in green, paying testament to the home team’s commitment to securing the win. Image: Screengrab of Supersport10’s live broadcast of the match.
Photo 2 caption: The race to put points on the table was elusive on Saturday, as with a goal disallowed and their many attacks coming to nought. Image: Screengrab of Supersport10’s live broadcast of the match.
Photo 4 caption: South Africa’s next fixture is against Argentina on Wednesday. Image: Screengrab of Supersport10’s live broadcast of the match.
Photo 5 caption: The FIH’s Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Joburg, which double up as World Cup Qualifiers, also includes (Pool A) Germany, Ireland, Japan, England, Poland; and (Pool B) USA, India, Argentina and Chile alongside hosts South Africa. Image: Screengrab of Supersport10’s live broadcast of the match.
With editing by gsport