South Africa suffered a double defeat at the Hockey World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands on Tuesday.
Jon Cook reports that the Investec South Africa women’s team first went down 3-1 to Germany after trailing 1-0 at half-time in the teams’ second Group B match and the men’s side went down 5-0 to New Zealand later in the day.
The Germans’ goals came from a Marie Mavers brace and the striker was joined by team-mate Kristina Hillmann on the scoresheet while SA’s successful strike went to Shelley Russell (see her celebrations with Dirkie Chamberlain, right).
The South Africans need the presence of striker Sulette Damons, again rested due to injury, upfront.
SA assistant coach Kurt Cerfontyne said the team created far more opportunities than in the 4-1 loss to reigning World Cup champs Argentina on Sunday night. ÔÇ£But we have got to look at ways to create better connections in goalscoring positions. Cerfontyne added that SA are still looking to finish inside the top 10.
There are still three Group B matches left for SA and Cox pointed out that this is a long tournament. ÔÇ£We’ve got to put this behind us, take it one game at a time, the players are fit and I don’t think it will be difficult to pick ourselves up for the next match [on Friday at 2.30pm against world number three England].ÔÇØ
SA had pulled a goal back (2-1) with six minutes left and Cox said that conceding a goal to trail by two goals once again, just a minute later, is never good. ÔÇ£It was crucial when we scored only for Germany to immediately get one back.ÔÇØ
World No11 South Africa started very well, making a number of quality penetrations into world number six Germany’s defensive zone and in the 10th minute Russell shaved the wrong side of the left post with only goalkeeper and captain Kim Platten to beat.
The Germans, who drew with world No8 side Korea 1-1 in their opener, came back and Kristina Hillmann tested keeper Anelle van Deventer before the Europeans quite rightly had a goal disallowed after the ball came off an attacker’s body.
SA, like Germany, also needed points in Group B after their defeat to Argentina and midway through the half Dirkie Chamberlain brought Platten into action again after Bernie Coston’s powerful cross from the right.
However, the Germans opened the scoring in the 19th when Jana Teschke fired in a left-to-right diagonal ball from inside the 23-metre area and Mavers was superb in getting a touch to leave Van Deventer with no chance (1-0).
There was encouragement when the girls in green and gold won a penalty corner in the 28th minute but the goalscoring opportunity went astray. A number of other promising build-ups went awry but SA kept plugging away and won a second PC, and then a third, on half-time, yet the Germans held on to their one-goal lead.
In the first 10 minutes after the changeover, the battle was fought largely between the 23m lines but Germany were down to nine players in the 11th minute and a Russell turnover and feed right to Pietie Coetzee was not capitalised on by the world record goalscorer.
In the 50th minute Germany won their first PC, while SA had earned three at that stage, and Hillmann made it 2-0 after a goalmouth scramble. In the 64th SA pulled a goal back with a great move down the left that involved Coetzee, Coston and Chamberlain in the final plays before Russell delivered the final strike (2-1).
But the joy was brief as Germany restored their two-goal cushion a minute later (65th) when Mavers bagged a second (3-1) and SA were left to reflect on what might have been.
In the men’s match, after leading 3-0 at half-time, the Black Sticks making the most of their chances, in contrast to the African champions.
This World Cup match saw SA start well but in the fourth minute Simon Child did brilliantly to trap a difficult pass on his backhand and turn to smash a rising shot that flew past keeper Rassie Pieterse at a tremendous pace (1-0).
In the 10th SA striker Ignatius Malgraff’s quick hands earned this fast-paced clash’s first penalty corner and captain Austin Smith’s lightning-quick drag flick smashed into the crossbar and stayed out.
SA had another great opportunity shortly after, but the chance was lost in the final pass and the Kiwis hit back immediately to win their first PC in the 15th, which Andy Hayward buried into the right-hand side of the backboard (2-0). Hayward repeated the medicine in the 17th by taking the same option as his initial goal (3-0).
SA had some cheer three minutes later when a left-to-right diagonal pass fired in by Jethro Eustice saw a flying Tim Drummond come close to deflecting into the goals. And soon after Jonty Robinson, Tim Drummond and Julian Hykes combined to win a second PC, from which SA had three chances to score but to no avail.
A great chance fell to Taine Paton in the 25th after more excellent work by SA upfront but the closely marked midfielder, under pressure from a defender, couldn’t make the final connection. The Kiwis hit back to win their third PC in the 29th from which Kane Russell took a fearful blow in a collision with SA defender Rhett Halkett, who was playing in his 100th Test.
Russell recovered sufficiently to fire New Zealand’s fourth PC at Pieterse soon after but the keeper glove-saved low to his left. Another Hayward PC on the half-time whistle went wide.
Two minutes into the second half Pieterse made a save and came off his line at the right time hardly a minute later. In the 42nd Lloyd Madsen won SA’s third PC but the chance came to nothing.
A number of promising SA attacks were breaking down at the critical moment and Pieterse was force to make another intervention at the other end after some stunning individual skill by Stephen Jenness along the left-side baseline. More superb running saw Child break into the strike zone and the exceptional sharpshooter’s backhand blast was somehow stopped by the last line of defence.
The Kiwis’ excellent patch of play marched on and in the 52nd Shea McAleese got a touch from Hayward’s disguised PC pass for the rock-hard white nut to flash high into the net (4-0). In the 55th another Hayward PC picked the same left-hand side of the goals as his initial brace of successful strikes and the drag-flick specialist had netted his hat-trick (5-0).
It is simply too much to expect the SA men’s team, who as a group of 18 players had been together for just a fortnight, to win matches against outstanding opponents that have been preparing for months ÔÇô and even years in some cases ÔÇô going into the four-year showpiece of hockey.
Picture: Frank Uijlenbroek