Dodgy umpiring sees SA forfeit crucial point against Spain

2010-03-01 00:00

SOUTH Africa were unfortunate to lose 4-2 to third-ranked Spain in the Hockey World Cup opening match in Delhi yesterday.

Fired-up SA under captain Austin Smith were 2-2 at half-time against the Beijing Olympics silver medallists before two highly contentious Spanish goals saw head coach Gregg Clark’s side lose a crucial point the draw would have given them.

There were five Maritzburg College Old Boys in the SA team — Tommy Hammond, Gareth Carr, Taine and Wade Paton and Marvin Harper.

SA had their chances to earn three points from this clash in a much-improved showing from their disappointing Olympic Games, as a win would have been priceless given the cut-throat nature of Pool B’s six-team section.

With 24 minutes left in the second half, Smith referred a decision to video umpire Hamish Jamson of England and SA were awarded a penalty corner, which saw Carr’s flick cleared off the line, and on the counter-attack Spain scored through Rodrigo Garza. SA protested vehemently as they felt the ball had floated dangerously into the air, making any contact illegal. Dutch umpire Roel van Eert’s decision was referred to Jamson, who ruled that the goal stood, much to South Africa’s disgust.

Then with 10 minutes to go, the SA defence were outraged when what was a legitimate defensive tackle that saw the ball hit a hand on the stick was adjudged otherwise by Van Eert, who awarded Spain a penalty corner. Pau Quemada’s bullet drag flick from the top of the circle left outstanding goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse with little chance as it almost burst the net to the keeper’s right and SA had suffered a cruel injustice.

Unfortunately, SA had used up their referrals so there was no recourse.

Midway through the first half, world number 13 SA had shocked the team ranked 10 places higher when in-form striker Ian Haley made an exceptional tackle against the run of play to come away with the ball and engineer a one-two pass for Julian Hykes to net past top-class Spanish keeper Francisco Cortes for the World Cup’s opening goal.

Stung by the setback, Spain immediately restored parity when captain and 2009 World Hockey Player of the Year Pol Amat’s reverse-stick screamer was saved by Pieterse, only for Roc Oliva to net the rebound. Soon after, SA defensive indecision in the circle saw Miquel Delas capitalise on the loose ball for the softest of goals.

SA made it 2-2 at the change-over when Thornton McDade forced a PC, Spain lost one of their defenders for breaking too soon and Haley netted the goalmouth melee.

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