The South Africa Under-21 women’s hockey team came back from a 2-0 half-time deficit against China and a 3-1 deficit with 19 minutes left to draw their opening Junior World Cup match 3-3 thanks to a last-minute goal by Western Province’s Quanita Bobbs at M├Ânchengladbach’s Hockey Park in Germany on Saturday morning.
Argentina, silver medallists to The Netherlands at the 2009 JWC in Boston, Massachusetts in the USA, won the other Pool B match 4-0 against fellow Pan American region country Canada.
The top two teams in the four-team Pool B will go through to Thursday’s quarter-finals.
Bobbs’s last-minute goal secured one point for SA after China had given away a 2-0 and then a 3-1 lead.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) reports that the Chinese were the dominant side in the first half. China won two penalty corners early in the match, while their biggest scoring opportunity came in the 23rd minute when Liu Yuyue’s attempt hit the post. However, Sun Jing eventually took the lead for China a few seconds later.
South Africa created a promising scoring opportunity towards the end of the first half when Jacinta Jubb won her team’s first penalty corner. The drag-flick was well taken but China’s goalkeeper Ye Jiao saved the ball with her glove.┬áThree minutes before half-time Lui Meng beat several defenders – and SA goalkeeper Phume Mbande ÔÇô to double the Chinese lead.
Pushed forward by their fans, South Africa had a powerful start in the second half with captain Izelle Lategan bringing her team onto the scoreboard. Afterwards the African champions were close to equalising but the Chinese defence stood strong.┬áSuddenly, it was China scoring against the run of play. Zhang Jinrong converted a penalty corner in the 51st minute to secure a 3-1 lead.
However, South Africa struck back again when Sul├®ke Brand scored from a penalty corner variation. The equaliser came from another penalty corner, awarded in the last minute of the match. Bobbs smashed the ball into the goals for the 3-3 final score, much to the delight of the South African camp.
South Africa play further Pool B matches Sunday at 10am (SA time) against Argentina before their last Pool B clash next Tuesday against Canada at 2pm (SA time).
The 16 teams, who are in four Pools of four, then go into the cross-pool playoffs next Thursday, which include the quarter-finals, before next Friday’s top-eight play-offs that include the semi-finals. Next Saturday’s matches feature the bottom-eight teams in play-offs before next Sunday’s final classification matches for the 16 teams. Sunday’s fare also includes the gold and bronze medal matches.
Other than those mentioned in Pool B, the Pool A line-up features Ghana, South Korea, The Netherlands and the USA. Pool C features Australia, India, New Zealand and Russia, while Pool D has Belgium, England, Spain and Germany in its ranks.
SA Under-21 JUNIOR WORLD CUP TEAM
Bronwyn Kretzmann, Erin Hunter, Nicole la Fleur, Quanita Bobbs, Sherry King, Sul├®ke Brand, Taryn Mallett (vice-capt), Tarryn Glasby (all Western Province); Izelle Lategan (capt), Lin├® Malan, Tanya Britz, Nicole Walraven (all Free State); Jacinta Jubb, Lilian du Plessis, Phume Mbande (all Northern Blues); Tiffany Jones (North West); Toni Marx (Eastern Province); Nika Nel (Southern Gauteng).