|March 6th, 2010|
|20||Pool B||6:30pm||RSA - PAK||4 - 3 (0 - 1)||Final|
South Africa was up to a difficult task in the second match of the day. Having lost their first three encounters against Spain, England and Australia, they were pitted against a Pakistani team with their backs to the wall after losing severely to India (1-4) on opening day then to England (2-5). As in their first two games, South Africa nearly opened the scoring on a penalty-corner in the second minute of play, but it was Rehan BUTT who emerged from a wild scrum in front of Erasmus PIETERSE to score the first goal in the 6th minute.
Oddly, the Green Shirts seemed satisfied with the meagre lead and played at half-pace for a while, trying to show their individual skills but repeatedly losing the balls on unforced errors. South Africa boldly took their chances upfront and defended well a few penalty-corners, including a Sohail ABBAS low flick that went to video-umpiring referral for confirmation of the call then invalidation of the goal.
Taine PATON exposed the porosity of the Pakistani defense in the 31st minute, stealing a ball outside the 25m and running unchallenged before sending high in the stands his shot, that had Salman AKBAR stranded. South Africa had a long period of domination, dictating the pace to a Pakistani team definitely unimpressive. The final minutes of the period were all South Africa and the Green Shirts were clearly happy to pass the ball around to count down the clock and go into the break with their scanty one-goal lead.
South Africa picked up the game where they had left it, forcing a penalty-corner in the 38th minute and scoring by Gareth CARR after a well executed combination that sent the Pakistani runners in no-man’s-land. The crowd, now happy to support the underdog against the Pakistani neighbours, had more reason to erupt in wild cheers when Ian HALEY batted the ball into the empty goal after the shot from Thornton McDADE was deflected high up in the air by Salman AKBAR. Incredibly, South Africa added another goal shortly after by Taine PATON, taking advantage of a completely disoriented Pakistani defense gasping for air.
The rout continued in the 54th minute, when Salman AKBAR saw Marvin HARPER arrive alone in front of him and propel a missile in net. 4-1 for South Africa and twelve minutes to go! The South Africans (and the gamblers) in the crowd would certainly not have dreamed such a scenario one hour before. South Africa, on the verge of an historic feat, were now fighting with tooth and nail to defend their lead against Pakistani players who had lost all concept of team play.
Erasmus PIETERSE stood tall in goal to thwart some desperate final assaults. Muhammad IMRAN and Waseem AHMED scored on penalty-corners, including one that needed to be taken three times with no time on the clock, but it was too little too late and the Green Shirts left the pitch dejected while the African Champions enjoyed a deserved standing ovation from the capacity crowd.
Match Facts (South Africa v. Pakistan):
> South Africa beat Pakistan 4-3 to end their 10-match winless streak in World Cup competition.
> This is South Africa’s first WC win since 2002 when they beat Belgium 5-4 in the match for 13th place.
> South Africa join Pakistan on three points in Pool B. India are also on three points but they are still to play England tonight.