Such is the nature of the Indoor Hockey World Cup that South Africa’s BlitzStoks did not have time to wallow in the opening day defeats as the matches come quick and fast. Today the lads took on Switzerland and Iran knowing that they needed to pack up one victory at least to keep their hopes of top 8 alive.
In the early game the BlitzStoks took on the Swiss, a team they lost narrowly to in a warm-up game, and immediately looked like they knew the pressure they were under to force a result. Playing on the back foot and soaking up pressure the BlitzStoks produced only one circle entry in the entire first half and went into the break facing a 3-0 deficit through a Yves Morard hat-trick, but were thankful to Richard Curtis that the score was not more. Pierre le Roux and his coaching team would have been disappointed with the first half performance, but whatever they said at halftime kicked their side into action.
The game looked a complete mirror of the first half as the BlitzStoks laid siege after siege of attack and denied the Swiss any opportunities to re-establish control in the game. The BlitzStoks managed to pull a goal back through Reza Rosenberg, but the lack of finishing proved costly as South Africa were consigned to their third successive defeat of the tournament.
It was now all or nothing as the BlitzStoks took on the undefeated Iranians knowing that anything other than victory would deny them an opportunity to compete for the top 8 positions in world indoor hockey. With that in mind, the Lads finally played the brand of hockey that has made them so popular with the kids around the country. They played like a team with nothing to lose and found a halftime lead of 2-1 through Wade Paton and Jarryd Jones.
The scoreline remained that way until for another occasion in the tournament South Africa conceded twice in 1 minutes. Reza Norouzzadeh leveled from the PC before Behnam Sadi gave Iran the lead to punish the sloppy play. However, the BlitzStoks fought back and Reza Rosenberg pulled them square with his second goal of the day. But once again the lead did not last long and South Africa needlessly gave away a penalty stroke which Norouzzadeh dispatched. Try as they might the BlitzStoks could not pull level and conceded two more goals to give the scoreline a lopsided feel.
To add insult to injury, Switzerland were defeated by Belgium sending South Africa to the disappointment of the 11th and 12th place playoff with a group game remaining. The BlitzStoks will play against Belgium in tomorrow’s game before playing either Kazhakstan or Trinidad & Tobago in the 11th place match on Saturday morning.