There were two big scores and a tightly contested match in the opening day’s three matches at the World League Round 2 event at the Deodoro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Wednesday.
South Africa cruised to a 9-0 victory over Brazil while Argentina dominated Trinidad & Tobago 9-2. The final match of the day was a closely fought match between USA and Chile, with Chile recording a 1-0 win over their north American rivals.
SOUTH AFRICA vs BRAZIL
The South African men’s hockey team got their World League Round 2 campaign off to a great start at the Deodoro in Rio de Janeiro Wednesday when they beat host nation Brazil 9-0 after leading 6-0 at half-time.
Clint Panther nailed a hat-trick (34th, 35th and 67th minutes) with Lloyd Norris-Jones getting a brace (32nd and 61st minutes) and Craig Haley (second minute), Austin Smith (penalty corner 11th minute), Taine Paton (25th minute) and Ricky West (51st minute PC) adding the rest.
World number 12 SA got on the scoresheet early, which took the pressure off, but the second half started badly for the Africans, who gave away possession too easily.
SA had a good start to the tournament but there is lots of work to do if they are to topple tournament favourites Argentina, the world number 10.
World 33 Brazil tried very hard but were unable to keep possession long enough to present a genuine threat.
Captain Ernst Onnes worked valiantly to rally his Brazilian troops in blue and despite the scoreline goalkeeper Thiago Bomfim made several fine saves.
ARGENTINA vs TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
The second match between Argentina and a willing number 34 in the world in Trinidad and Tobago was also relatively one-sided but there must surely be concern for the men from the Pampas as to the lack of concentration that allowed the West Indians to score twice in the final 15 minutes without reply.
The comfortable 5-0 half-time scoreline culminated in a 9-2 final score.
Seven Argentine players got on the scoresheet, which is testimony to their “total hockey” game with players interchangeable and adept everywhere on the park and in every situation.
Seven of the nine goals were from field play with Gonzalo Peillat getting both penalty corners – in the 44th and 51st minutes.
Augustin Mazzilli opened the scoring from field play in the 10th minute and from that point it was one-way traffic for the most part of this entertaining clash – entertaining not because of the scoreline but because of the individual and collective skill sets on display, despite the intense heat and energy-sapping humidity.
Enrique Paredes scored Argentina’s third goal in the 21st minute, and Lucas Vila got one of his own in the 52nd minute – his side’s last goal with a quarter of the match to go. The rest of Argentina’s goals came from a brace apiece by the fabulously talented Rodrigo Vila - with strikes in the 18th and 22ndminutes, as well as Guillermo Schickendantz (25th and 36th minutes).
But the real surprise was T&T finishing strongly after trailing 9-0. Christopher Scipio netted a field goal in the 57th minute and Atiba Whittington did the same in the 66th minute.
USA vs CHILE
This was cup final stuff, such was the ferociousness of the intensity out there in the afternoon match, which was thankfully cooler than the earlier temperatures.
No quarter was asked or given in this battle of north and south America and several players will have the bumps and bruises to prove it, and it was a good thing that experienced umpires Peter Wright of South Africa and London 2012 Olympic Games official Roel van Eert were given this match to look after.
Goalmouth action was overshadowed by the battle for possession in the engine room of the midfield and such was the intensity of the challenges there were too many turnovers for either coaches’ comfort.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 50th minute when Fernando Fernandes scored from inside the six-yard box to put Chile ahead.
With nine minutes left livewire USA attacking midfielder Jonathan Ginolfi suffered the mortification of seeing his backhand pile-driver smash into the post and stay out.
For the USA it was not to be ... but they will be back.
Argentina face Brazil Thursday in the opening game, with SA and the USA sandwiched in between Chile and Trinidad & Tobago.
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