|July 31st, 2012|
|8||Pool B||10:45am||RSA - NZL||1 - 4 (0 - 3)||Final|
Second match of the day was a southern hemisphere encounter between South Africa and New Zealand. New Zealand opened the 2012 Olympic competition with a precious win, stunning Australia (1-0), while South Africa suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of World Champion Argentina (1-7).
Before the match, South African Pietie Coetzee was honored for her 250th international Cap and Japanese umpire Chieko Soma received a Golden Whistle from FIH President Leandro Negre for officiating in her 100th international match.
New Zealand did not waste time to stake their claim on the game, forcing a penalty-corner on their first attack. It was perfectly executed, birthday girl Charlotte Harrison deflecting from close range the initial shot by Kayla Sharland. They then had four unsuccessful penalty-corner attempts before Clarissa Eshuis finally scored on the next one with a direct shot to widen the gap to two goals.
The Black Sticks (playing in white) had a good handle on the game and the South Africans were struggling to get out of their own half. On one of their lone incursions in New Zealand territory, Pietie Coetzee showed why she is a lethal goal hunter, nearly scoring from an innocuous chance created by a pass from Marsha Marescia. The next goal was however again for New Zealand, after a long video-referral to decide if Kayla Sharland’s shot was indeed within the shooting circle.
Second period started with a chance for Pietie Coetzee well handled by Bianca Russell in goal for New Zealand. South Africa pushed valiantly to create opportunities and were rewarded by a penalty-stroke when Jennifer Wilson was fouled in the circle. Pietie Coetzee scored to celebrate in style her 250th appearance in a South African jersey.
The Black Sticks weathered the storm and Kayla Sharland promptly re-established the 3-goal lead with a powerful reverse shot blasted from a narrow angle. They earned some mixed reaction from the crowd when they started to waste time in the final minutes despite their comfortable lead, but were happy to end the day with maximum points in Pool B standings.
Stacey MICHELSEN (NZL), On being booed by the spectators for slowing play down at the end of the match: "I definitely heard it, but it didn't really upset me. Some people don't like when you do it, but at the end of the pool stages it could come down to goals, so I didn't want to take the risk."
Lesle-Ann GEORGE (RSA)
On South Africa's performance so far: "We are feeling quite down after two defeats. We looked long and hard at the game we played against Argentina and tried to learn. We went right through the game, looking particularly at our defence to improve it for this match against New Zealand."
On conceding a lot of penalty corners: "The reason we conceded so many in the first half was because we attacked too much inside the circle. We need to work on that and attack better outside the circle."
On their next match against Germany (2 August): "Its going to be a big ask. We will definitely need to start better than we did today."
Charlotte HARRISON (NZL)
On the game: "I'm very proud that the team stuck to the structure and we did everything that our coach asked of us, and we had the discipline to stick to it all. We've got belief. Our team is such a tight-knit team and we get on like a house on fire."
On scoring a goal on her birthday: "I'm so chuffed. When I heard the call for the corner I was pretty nervous, but it was my chance to shine. Kayla (SHARLAND, NZL) hit it really well though, so it would have been pretty hard to miss."
Kathleen TAYLOR (RSA)
On what the coach said at half-time: "I think our tactics weren't wrong, but he (our coach) really had to point out and fight for our energy in the changing room and belief in ourselves that we can come back out and be a different team in the second half. I think we showed that at various moments, but I think the reality of the team is far different from today. We are really underperforming and it is really frustrating for us. Each game we just need to strive to really find our form."
On the video referrals decisions: "I think it was incredibly indecisive. They firstly took very long in deciding, which gives the players a sense of insecurity on the field. We don't really know what is going on as if the umpires themselves don't have charge of the rules, let alone the game. It causes a sense of waiting around the field, which causes our heart rates to fall and it is then difficult to regain momentum especially for the attacking team. For us it was disappointing that they were indecisive about the rules. We as players look to them to make clear decisions and hopefully unbiased decisions as well. The fact that the goal was in the end awarded and they couldn't actually make the decision, we find that hard to grasp because if it's so unclear that they don't know what to say, how can they give the favour to the other team? That was a bit disappointing for us to experience, but nevertheless I still thought that we could have fought back harder to even come back two or three goals against them. That didn't count in our favour unfortunately."
Pietie COETZEE (RSA)
On winning her 250th international cap: "It was nice to achieve the 250th cap at the Olympic Games, however it would have been nicer if we had a positive result today but that's how it goes."
On what South Africa struggled with against New Zealand: "We struggled to get into our stride and play what we recognise as our own game. But what we realised especially after the first half is that we have to force it. We have to force getting into our style of play and we must get much tougher against these opponents."