|May 2nd, 2012|
|11||Pool A||4:00pm||JPN - RSA||3 - 3 (1 - 1)||Final|
Japan 3, South Africa 3
The battle between #1 South Africa and #2 Japan more than lived up to expectations with a dramatic last-second short corner goal from Justin Reid Ross saving a 3-3 tie against the host nation. The goal sealed what was the most entertaining and hard fought match of this Olympic Qualification Tournament.
South Africa never held the lead the entire game and after the Japanese scored the go-ahead 3-2 goal with 17 minutes left in regulation, it looked like all three points would go to them. But with one second left, a penalty corner was awarded to South Africa and specialist Reid Ross fired in his second marker of the game to give each team a point out of the meeting.
The tie puts both teams in a must-win situation on the last day of round robin action on Friday, but Japan is in a tougher position as they now must win against third-seeded China to secure a spot in the final while South Africa faces fourth-ranked Austria.
There was no shortage of chances but it took 25 minutes for either team to get on the board when Japan’s Kai Kawakami scored on a short corner chance to make it 1-0. But four minutes later, Lloyd Norris Jones took advantage of a Japanese green card and quickly tied the game.
The see-saw battle continued into the second half. Japan opened the scoring with another penalty corner goal when Katsuyoki Nagasawa restored his team’s one-goal advantage. But again, South Africa quickly had the answer when Reid Ross fired in his first short corner goal, a rocket to the upper corner.
Japan’s 3-2 go-ahead goal came in the 53rd minute, this time when Kenta Tanaka scored Japan’s first field goal of the game. It looked like the lead would stand through regulation with South Africa getting more and more desperate to generate any kind of offense. In the last 30 seconds the South Africans were buzzing around Japan zone and were dramatically rewarded the penalty corner chance, setting up Reid-Ross’ heroics.