Chamberlain’s winner ensures SA women finish third

2014-05-05 00:00

“I JUST took it as though it was in a training session,” said striker Dirkie Chamberlain after her unerring flick from the penalty spot with three minutes left won the Investec South Africa women’s hockey team the bronze medal against a gallant Spain by one goal to nil (1-0) at the Champions Challenge on the Glasgow Green Stadium pitch in Scotland yesterday.

The 67th-minute winner capped a thrilling match in which goalmouth action flew from end to end at an incredible pace. It was fastest match of the tournament, a remarkable feat considering it was each side’s sixth Test match in eight days.

The victory also served as a degree of consolation for the girls in green and gold who were desperately unfortunate to lose their Saturday semi-final to Ireland 2-1 despite dominating the match.

“We came out today and gave everything, it’s a wonderful team, we really got stuck in,” said Chamberlain.

“We are elated but I must pay a compliment to Spain for giving us such a great match, they didn’t make it easy for us but we just kept going, never stopped believing.”

The crowd gave both sides a lengthy ovation in appreciation for a match that proved you don’t have to have a lot of goals to make for an enthralling contest, yet on another day the score might well have gone into double figures.

Chamberlain had taken a fearful blow to the head as early as the seventh minute and had to be helped off, but the goalscorer returned to the fray less than five minutes later, indicative of the determination with which SA approached the match.

Both goalkeepers, Anelle van Deventer and Spain’s Maria Zubiria de Eguilaz Lopez, made a number of fine saves, while to a player both sides gave their all and then some.

And it was not only on attack that both sides shone, despite the low score, with some of the South Africa’s tackle-backs regaining possession out of the top drawer.

Chamberlain’s winner came as a consequence of a brace of shots in succession from Celia Evans and Bernie Coston, this after SA captain Marsha Cox had made the initial pass, Coston’s effort hitting a defender’s foot on the goalline, and Chamberlain went low to Lopez’s right from the penalty spot for the decisive moment of the match.

The SA team touch down in Johannesburg tomorrow morning before flying to the Netherlands five days later and yet another training camp ahead of the World Cup in the Hague from May 31 to June 15.

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