Jan 23, 2024

African Champions downed by European Champions in only test

The South African hockey men secured qualification for the Paris Olympics in winning the African Hockey Road to Paris tournament, in so doing adding their name to a list of qualified teams that includes Netherlands the European champions.

Both sides are in Cape Town for preparation camps with a couple of friendly games involving India and France as well. On Monday they met in their only official test match. South Africa used the opportunity to give both Tumi Ramphele and Hans Neethling their debut caps for the country receiving their shirts from skipper Dayaan Cassiem.

Netherlands is currently ranked top in the World Rankings, a position they have held since June last year and are ranked 12 spots ahead of South Africa. The two teams last met in the FIH Pro League where it was two heavy defeats for the African champions.

Netherlands got off to the ideal start scoring inside 30 seconds with a sublime run and touch Koen Bijen just in front of Gowan Jones to make it 1-0. South Africa settled well after that to contain and had bright moments throughout with Mustapha Cassiem and Keenan Horne almost combining well for a leveler.

But Netherlands scored their second to stretch the lead from a penalty corner, just before the end of the quarter. Jip Jansen would make no mistake with a rocket into the goal and the score would be 2-0 to the world’s top ranked hockey team.

South Africa would earn three penalty corners but were unable to find the back of the net with one of them and would be punished late on by captain Thierry Brinkman making it 3-0 to secure the non-nonsense win for the Dutch.

South Africa will participate in a few more friendlies in the tournament before completing their preparation series with a one-off test match against India on the 28th January.

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