South Africa 3, Belgium 2
Host South Africa took a huge step towards winning the Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in Cape Town after earning a 3-2 victory against Belgium today in a battle of the two top-ranked teams.
Belgium swept all four games the previous week in test games leading up to the World League tournament, but today South Africa was playing with a loaded roster with all their big names on board. Indeed it was superstar Pietie Coetzee that was the difference in the game, firing in all three of the South African goals. Coetzee drew first blood in the meeting when she fired in the 1-0 goal on a penalty corner to give South Africa the quick 1-0 lead.
But Belgium fought its way back into the game. The 1-1 goal came on a beautiful diving effort from Helene Delmee who finished a tic-tac-toe play to spark her team to life. The Belgians had more spring in their step for the rest of the half, but it wasn’t until just before the break that they took their first lead when Stephanie De Groof, playing in her 100th international game, fired in a penalty corner shot to put Belgium on top before the break.
South Africa came out of the break fired up and was quickly rewarded when Coetzee struck with her second penalty corner goal of the game. The high corner shot deadlocked the game at two. There was no lack of action on both side of the field through the second half as the teams each desperately tried to pull ahead, but spectacular goalkeeping and several near misses kept things even until Coetzee put in the game winner with less than two minutes left in the game, scoring her third penalty corner goal.
The win keeps South Africa perfect in its two outings at the Hockey World League, while Belgium now has two wins and a loss. Azerbaijan is also a contender for the title with two wins in their first two games. Tomorrow all teams are idle before resuming play on Saturday.
Austria 2, Ghana 1
Austria picked up its first win at the Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in Cape Town, South Africa after topping Ghana, 2-1. The game was a balance affair that reflected the teams close standing in the FIH World Ranking, with Austria holding the 29th spot and Ghana weighing in at #31.
Ghana scored its first goal of the tournament to open the scoring just seven minutes into action. Nkansah Lydia Tenkorang was left unchecked in the circle and scored with streaking in front of the goal. The lead stood for about 10 minutes when Austria finally converted one of its many penalty corner chances in the first half. Denis Turek evened the game with her flick for Austria’s first goal of the event as well.
It was a see-saw battle through the rest of the half, but with time ticking towards the break, Austria took its first lead of the game when captain Corinna Zerbs scored what would prove to the be eventual game winner. The second half was a lot of cat and mouse with scoring chances few and far between allowing Austria to earn bragging rights in the bottom half of the standings table.
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