South Africa dominate Argentina to win bronze medal

2011-12-05 00:00

WITH 55 seconds left in a thrilling Champions Challenge gold medal match at Randburg Hockey Stadium late yesterday afternoon, a tough-as-nails Belgium came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat an unlucky India 4-3.

South Africa upset world number eight Argentina 3-1 after leading 2-1 at half-time to win the bronze medal.

South Africa dominated the match and deserved to win by more, although that could also be said of their semi-final defeat to India.

Just for getting to the final, the Indian side had already been awarded

R400 000 by a hotel chain that doesn’t even sponsor the team.

The bronze medal will also do much for the amateur SA team’s morale as they contemplate an expensive trip of over R1 million for the final Olympic qualifier tournament in Japan in April, where they will have a last chance to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics, provided they win the gold medal there.

The SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) is not satisfied with the quality of opposition that champions South Africa face in their Africa continent Olympic Qualifier tournaments, which is the route accepted by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The FIH and IOC stipulate that the winners of the Africa continent tournament automatically qualify for the Olympics. However, the final decision rests with the individual country’s Olympic governing body.

Sascoc said if South Africa reached the Champions Challenge final, that would prove their worth, and despite a performance that saw SA lose narrowly to Olympic qualifiers Belgium — and then India in two fantastic matches — before comfortably beating world number eight Argentina, who are also already qualified for London, the failure to achieve silver in Randburg has now led to a last-chance opportunity should captain Austin Smith’s team win gold in Japan.

Goalkeeper of the Tournament: David van Rysselberghe (Belgium) Player of the Tournament: Sandeep Singh (India) Joint Top Goalscorers (8): Justin Reid-Ross (SA) and Tom Boon (Belgium) Fair Play Trophy: South Africa

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