The South African Hockey Men began the 14th FIH Hockey World Cup with a humbling 5-0 defeat to India. In the 12th encounter between the two nations, India underlined their dominance with their seventh victory. The game marked 100 caps for Jethro Eustice who scored the goal that qualified South Africa for the World Cup in the final of the African Hockey Cup of Nations in 2017.
India may have been expected to be nervous playing in front of an expectant capacity crowd at the Kalinga stadium looking to the country to end 43 years of hurt. The young Indian side though showed no signs of it in dominant opening 15 minutes. Their dominant opening bore fruit as early as the 10th minute as Rassie Pieterse denied Simranjeet but Mandeep Singh was on hand to smash the ball home. It got even better for the vociferous home crowd when a superb bit of combination play saw Akashdeep Singh finish off leaving Rassie Pieterse no chance.
The second quarter saw the South African men revert to a more defensive approach which quickly produced a more balance quarter of hockey. In fact, in the quarter both sides had 6 circle entries and one shot on goal as the SA Men’s nerves seemed to settle. The score remained 2-0 at half-time. It was a score line that was probably reflective of the opening half and meant South Africa would have to find another gear to get back into the game.
And for ten minutes in the third quarter it felt like South Africa were finally getting a foothold in the game with better possession, better movement and better time on the ball for the flare players in Julian Hykes, Taine Paton and Nic Spooner. Having created two good scoring opportunities including a penalty corner, South Africa were left floored when India showed the difference in class between the two sides with a superb double strike. First there was defensive uncertainty for South Africa allowing Simranjeet Singh to net before Lalit Upadhyay showed all strikers how it’s done with a splendid deflection. The double strike right on the end of the third quarter took any wind out of the South African sails and settled the result for the hosts.
The final quarter did not maintain the intensity of the first three as both teams cast their eyes towards their next games. There was one further goal for India as Simranjeet Singh made it 5-0 when he finished off another penalty corner variation from the hosts to confine the South Africans to a bruising final score of 5-0.
For India a table topping decider against Belgium await them next, while South Africa would be looking to the match against Canada as the route to the cross overs.
FIH Hockey World Cup 2018 – Group C – 28 November Results
Belgium 2-1 Canada
India 5-0 South Africa
Group C – 2 December Fixtures
13:30 South Africa vs. Canada
15:30 India vs. Belgium