Despite a thirty minute delay due to an earlier storm altering the schedule both the SA Hockey Men and the hosts Malaysia came out with a fire in their eyes as they looked to get a victory in the group stage match at the 10th Sultan of Johor Cup today in Malaysia. South Africa were buoyed by a remarkable 5-4 come from behind victory against India that ultimately opened the tournament up, while Malaysia were licking the wounds of a heavy defeat to Australia.
South Africa had the better exchanges but were left with only half chances until they won their first penalty corner of the game in the 22nd minute. Calvin Davis looked for the first shot, it was well charged down, but his reactions to get to the ball first and the power on his follow up strike was enough to beat the keeper and give the South Africans a one goal lead.
That lead was short lived as the hosts levelled through their own penalty corner. A hard shot fired through the South African defensive line and nestled into the back board to restore parity for the jubilant hosts. It would remain that way at the half time break. South Africa were eyeing a back-to-back victory which would give them a very realistic chance at competing for the final, while Malaysia were looking to open their campaign.
It was South Africa who wrote the next chapter of this gripping novel and they did with a moment of true quality. Pressure from the front saw the ball turned over. Ryan Mann played in a stupendous ball with the perfect angle, precision and class and Marvin Simons made a difficult finish look easy as he deflected the ball into the back of the net.
South Africa would add a third though as Malaysia looked to force their way back into the game. Sihle Ngubane produced a captains run down the right and after bamboozling three defenders he perfectly crossed the ball for goal scoring machine Cameron le Forestier to pop up and smash home the ball.
There would be no further goal mouth activity as the South Africans control the game and saw themselves secure a back-to-back win and 6 points on the table ahead of a meeting against Japan on Wednesday!