Argentina – South Africa 3-1 (1-0 halftime)
World #2 Argentina was the first team to earn a berth in Saturday’s semi-final game at the Investec Hockey World League tournament in London after a nip-and-tuck 3-1 win against a very persistent South African side.
The win gives Argentina a guaranteed top-four finish and a place in the 2014 Hockey World Cup. Since Argentina is ranked #2 in the world, even if they finish in fourth place here in London, they would still be better than the fourth-place finisher in Rotterdam, #3 New Zealand. Only the top three teams from each of the two semi-finals are guaranteed a place in the 2014 World Cup in addition to the highest-ranked fourth-place finisher from the two events. The New Zealand team is now sure to be the biggest supporter of Argentina at the London tournament.
The South Africans were clearly on a mission to create an upset in the top-seed vs. last-seed cross over quarterfinal. Their work ethic was clear throughout the 70 minutes. But ultimately, their inability to finish their chances doomed them, especially as time wore on and pressure mounted.
It took nearly 20 minutes for Argentina to net their first goal. Silvina D’Elia struck on a drag flick to provide the only offense of the first half.
South Africa came out in the second half and promptly evened the game at one when scoring sensation Pietie Coetzee scored just two minutes into action on a field goal. But six minutes later the glimmer of hope for the South Africans was dimmed when D’Elia scored her second of the game to put Argentina back in control.
It was a tense finale to the game as Argentina nervously held on to the one-goal lead. It wasn’t until Rosario Luchetti scored in the last two minutes of the game that Las Leonas could breathe a sigh of relief and book their Semi-Final ticket.
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