The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team will face reigning World Cup winners and London 2012 Olympic silver medallists, Argentina, in the quarterfinals of the Investec World League on Thursday in London.
The form book suggested England would beat Spain comfortably – and South Africa appeared almost certain to face Pool A runners-up China, the world’s number seven-ranked team in the third quarter-final, but the draw was turned upside down when world number 15 Spain drew 1-1 with world number four England in the late game at the University of Westminster in Chiswick, London on Tuesday.
The shock result, considering how well England played in beating the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team 4-1 and drawing with Pool B winners Australia 1-1 over the weekend means that South Africa will now be facing world number two Argentina, runaway winners of Pool A, in the first quarter-final.
Thursday’s 1.30 pm (SA time) quarter-final between South Africa and Argentina will be televised live on SuperSport 1.
On Tuesday night, in what was their best performance of the tournament to date, South Africa were shaded 1-0 by world number six Australia after the score was 0-0 at half-time in the last round of Pool B action at the University of Westminster turf in Chiswick, London.
It was a game of cat and mouse, both sides having spells of being the hunter and then the hunted. The workrate of every player on the park was extraordinary and skipper Madonna Blyth plus Ashleigh Nelson were two of the Hockeyroos who stood out at times.
In a very evenly-matched encounter, it was the Hockeyroos’ Junior World Player of the Year Anna Flanagan who scored the winner five minutes after half-time from Australia’s third penalty corner, her drag-flick just evading the outstretched stick of fluent SA goalkeeper Sanani Mangisa.
Trailing 1-0, SA drag-flick ace Pietie Coetzee hit the post from her side’s third PC and it just about reflected what might have been for the South Africans. Australia’s three green cards and one yellow card were indicative of the pressure SA put them under.
For SA, the heavily marked Marsha Cox produced an inspirational performance while attacking midfielder Shelley Russell was easily the most dangerous player on the field, creating havoc with her control and extreme pace down the right.
SA centre backs Tarryn Bright and Marcelle Keet played big roles in the heart of the South African defence but it is a trifle unfair to single out individuals in what was a committed team effort.
FIH World League Round 2 Quarterfinal Fixtures, on Thursday, 27 June, 2013 (Live broadcast times for SA on SuperSport1): 1:30pm: Argentina vs Investec South Africa 4:00pm: Australia vs USA 6:30pm: China vs Spain 9:00pm: England vs Italy South Africa Pool A Fixtures for the Investec World League Semi-Finals (Second Leg) in London from 22–30 June, 2013: 22 June: England 4-1 South Africa 23 June: South Africa 2-2 Spain Tue 25 June, 6:30pm: South Africa 0-1 Australia Investec SA Hockey Team for the FIH World League Semi-Finals Tournament at the University of Westminster in Chiswick, London: Sanani Mangisa (Southern Gauteng) Phume Mbande (Northern Blues) Lenise Marais (KZN Coastal Raiders) Marcelle Keet (Border) Nicolene Terblanche (Northern Blues) Illse Davids (Western Province) Shelley Russell (Western Province) Tarryn Bright (Western Province) Pietie Coetzee (Southern Gauteng) Quanita Bobbs (Western Province) Sulette Damons (North West) Dirkie Chamberlain (Northern Blues) Jade Mayne (Western Province) Tanya Britz (Free State) Lilian du Plessis (Northern Blues) Izelle Lategan (Free State) Kelly Madsen (KZN Coastal Raiders) Marsha Cox (née Marescia) (Southern Gauteng)
(With editing by sport)