In placement game action at the Electric Ireland FIH Champions Challenge 1, South Africa and Ireland came out the winners of the first round of games. The two teams will now meet in the fifth place game on Sunday. Meanwhile, India and Azerbaijan, which lost today’s games will play for seventh place on Sunday at 9 a.m.
South Africa won the first game of the day in a wet and drizzly affair that saw few chances in the soggy atmosphere with a 2-0 win against India. World record goal scorer Pietie Coetzee scored the lone goal of the first half 23 minutes into action. Coetzee had the chance to double the lead on a penalty shot five minutes later, but India’s Yogita Bali came up with the big save to keep India’s hopes alive.
But the as the rain steadily got harder in the second half, the scoring chances dwindled. The majority of action that the goaltenders saw was on penalty corners that ultimately missed the mark. Lesle-Ann George put in a rebound shot win in the dying minutes of the game to secure the victory and bring the final to 2-0.
In the evening game between host Ireland and Azerbaijan, the teams truly had to weather the storm as the skies continued to darken. For Ireland, the disappointment from yesterday’s Quarter Final loss was still clear as they came out in the first period frustrated. Azerbaijan played a safe game as shots were few and far between on both sides.
Ireland broke the stalemate 10 minutes into the second half when Cliodhna Sargent scored. The 1-0 Irish advantage endured through the final horn as the Irish found a small pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
For both Ireland and South Africa, today’s wins gave the squads some redemption after the disappointment of their surprising Quarter Final losses. The teams will face-off on Sunday for fifth place.
Tomorrow the Semi-Finals take center stage as Spain and Japan play the early Semi-Final at 13:00, and Scotland and USA follow at 15:30.