6 June 2014
At the bottom of their respective log tables, there is much to play for when the South African national hockey teams take to the field in Friday’s third round of Group B matches at the World Cup in The Hague.
The South African teams are the only truly amateur teams contesting the World Cup, which makes every match in The Hague a very tough assignment, but if they right their wrongs victory is not out of the question.
The world’s 11th-ranked Investec South Africa women’s hockey team take on England at 14:30 in a massive game for both sides.
Underlining the fierce competition at the World Cup, London 2012 Olympic Games bronze medallists and world number three England have suffered a 2-1 loss to world number 10, the USA, and a 3-0 shutout defeat to world number seven China.
Those setbacks have sent shockwaves through a side that needs to find a victory against South Africa if they are to make a go of living up to their semi-final seeding.
South Africa, too, has lost two matches from two starts, and while the 4-1 defeat by World Cup holders Argentina was not unexpected by the pundits, some observers were of the opinion that the girls in green and gold should probably have beaten world number six Germany.
South Africa had more shots at goal than the Europeans and three times as many penalty corners, yet a 3-1 defeat was the outcome.
Should super-quick striker Sulette Damons, who missed the first two matches due to injury, be ready, it would give the girls in green and gold more penetration against the English.
South African men
The world’s 12th-ranked South African men, defeated 4-0 by London 2012 Olympic champs Germany and 5-0 by the world number six New Zealand, face seventh ranked South Korea at 17:30 and again it’s a massive game for both teams.
They have both have lost twice from two starts and need a win to move away from the foot of the table in a hurry.
The Koreans were shaded 2-1 by both world number three The Netherlands and Group B leaders New Zealand and should go into the match against South Africa with more confidence than the African champions.
South Africa, though, can draw encouragement from their loss to the Black Sticks, as they entered the strike zone more often than their opponents. However, that’s where the good news ends. South Africa’s finishing was poor while the Kiwis succeeded in scoring on 50 percent of their opportunities.