Men’s hockey team lose to Argentina at BDO Champions Challenge I

2009-12-08 00:00

THE South Africa men’s hockey team suffered a 6-2 defeat to hosts Argentina after trailing 4-1 at half-time on the opening day of the BDO Champions Challenge I tournament at the Popeye Club in Salta, northern Argentina.

The tournament features the eight countries ranked outside the world top six, and victory means qualification for the following year’s elite (world top six) Champions Trophy.

FIH (International Hockey Federation) reports that Argentina were on attack from the first whistle and the SA defenders repelled Pedro Ibarra’s two penalty corner flicks. SA reacted strongly and came close to opening the scoring, but weren’t able to finish with the open goal beckoning.

In the ninth minute Ibarra netted his third PC, leaving SA goalkeeper Brendon Botes wishing for a couple more inches to lengthen his outstretched frame. Ibarra made it two not more than a couple of turns of the clock later as the vocal home crowd joined in the party.

SA were stung into replying and Marvin Harper completed a stunning solo run, in which he outskilled the Argentine defence on his way to eluding keeper Juan Tomas Espinosa.

The match evened out for a period, but Argentina regained their two-goal cushion when Augustin Amazilli was given too much room by the SA defence. Ibarra rubbed salt into the SA wound by completing a first half PC hat-trick for Argentina to turn around 4-1 to the good.

An annoying spurt of rain put a damper on things as second-half action took time to warm up — and it was the silky skills of Lucas Villa that rounded off two movements studded with classy stickwork.

Despite trailing by five, SA never threw in the towel and were justly rewarded when much-improved, skilful striker Lloyd Norris-Jones slotted a beaut of a goal.

Today, world number 15 South Africa play world 11s Canada, who were shaded 2-1 by Pakistan on day one. The other results saw Belgium beat China 4-3 and India draw 2-2 with the New Zealand Black Sticks.

Apart from the SA/Canada clash, the other day two matches see world sevens Pakistan meet world 10s Argentina, Belgium (ninth) face world eights New Zealand, and India (12) tackle China (world 13).

The teams are in two pools of four based on world rankings, with SA’s group opponents also including Pakistan, who they meet on Thursday, before Saturday’s crosspool play-offs and Sunday’s classification matches, with the final at 11.35 pm (SA time).

Meanwhile, Witness hockey writer Jonathan Cook was elected as an honorary life member of the KZN Inland Hockey Association at the province’s recent AGM.

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