|February 28th, 2010|
|01||Pool B||4:30pm||RSA - ESP||2 - 4 (2 - 2)||Final|
The Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 opened with an encounter between two teams with wildly different experiences of this top competition: Spain is one of five teams that have been present at all 11 previous World Cup tournaments, finishing 2nd in 1971 and 1998, while South Africa only had three modest participations with a best performance of 10th in 1994.
The first chance of the game was for Spain, but Erasmus PIETERSE in the South African goal stood tall to thwart the attempt. The Spaniards had a few more dangerous chances; however the first penalty-corner of the game was at the other end for South Africa. It was saved by Francisco CORTES in the Spanish goal and on the counter-attack Roc OLIVA had a golden opportunities to open the scoring in an open net, but the ball was saved on the line by a retreating defender.
The first injury of the competition was for... an umpire, and the match was temporarily stopped to replace Irishman Colin HUTCHINSON by Amarjit SINGH of Malaysia.
A quick South African counter-attack found Julian HYKES alone deep in Spanish territory and he made no mistake to become the first goal scorer of the 2010 World Cup. The Spanish reaction was brutal, Roc OLIVA then Miquel DELAS scoring in quick succession to switch back the lead to Spain. The game was flowing back and forth, keeping the crowd well entertained, and South Africa managed to tie the score before half-time on a broken penalty-corner, Ian HALEY pouncing on a loose ball in a scrum in front of goal to push it over the line.
The video-umpire was kept busy in second period, first to confirm a penalty-corner awarded to South Africa, then to confirm the go-ahead goal scored by Spaniard Rodrigo GARZA. After a long period of uncertain play, Spain finally increased their lead on a penalty-corner by Pau QUEMADA. The two-goal gap was too much for the African Champion and Spain, although not especially impressive, ended with the three points of the win, remaining unbeaten in their last nine World Cup games.