South Africa got their FIH Hockey Nations Cup Journey underway in Valencia this evening. In the final game of the opening day the South Africans took on the Japanese, a team ranked 9 spots ahead of them in the world rankings.
It was not the start the South Africans would have wanted as they conceded an early goal from Oikawa Shihori from a penalty corner. The South Africans surged back though and managed to pull level through captain Quanita Bobbs, in her 159th test match, levelling affairs. It came after a superb run down the left from Ntsopa Mokoena that is a glimpse of the future of South African Hockey
Japan was trying their best to dictate the game through possession and patient structure. The chances that were created by the Asians though were not incredibly dangerous and were relatively easily kept out by Anelle van Deventer and her defensive support.
South Africa were menacing themselves with the pacy frontline offering the Japanese some tough tests themselves, but chances were few and far between and at the half-time break it remained 1-1.
South Africa received two green cards in the space of a minute and Japan immediately struck taking advantage of the number advantage. However, Erin Christie reviewed the decision, and the goal was disallowed for not travelling five meters first. South Africa’s best chances came from the penalty corner, but they were not maximizing the opportunities.
In the final quarter Japan looked to create more opportunities and they did consistently with Anelle van Deventer making two important saves early on in the quarter. But the pressure that was created paid off when Toriyama Mai scored after firing across goal into the far corner.
Japan then held on to secure an opening victory while the South Africans will have a world cup rematch against Chile with both teams looking for their first win.
FIH Hockey Nations Cup 2022 – Day 1 Results
Korea 1-1 Italy
Spain 2-0 Ireland
India 3-1 Chile
Japan 2-1 South Africa
FIH Hockey Nations Cup 2022 – Final Day Fixtures (4 December)
10:45 – Ireland vs. Italy
13:00 – Korea vs. Spain
15:15 – Japan vs. India
17:30 – Chile vs. South Africa