Sunday, December 3, 2023

South Africa sparkle in Women’s Hockey World Cup comeback

South Africa women conjured a remarkable turnaround to force a 3-3 draw with Japan and keep their World Cup hopes alive.

The never-say-die attitude of the 16th-ranked side came to the fore in Terrassa as they came from 3-0 down to force a point.

Japan had scored twice in the first nine minutes, captain Nagai Yuri poking a rebounded and Toriyama Mai lifting the ball for a 2-0 lead.

Emi Nishikori scored a third quarter third goal before South Africa left the Cherry Blossoms shell shocked.

South Africa hit back when Kirsten Paton smashed into the net from mid-air.

Confidence was etched across the team and Tarryn Lombard scored from the top of the circle from a PC with five minutes left.

With just over a minute left on the clock, Lombard struck again, picking up a bouncing ball and turned it into the net from one yard out to seal the best comeback result of this World Cup.

Lombard put her hand to her mouth after her initial celebrating, underlining the nature of the last=gasp turnaround.

South Africa sit bottom on goal difference from Japan and need a result against Australia to give themselves a chance of qualifying. Japan play Belgium, who lost to the Hockeyroos.

Australia shot to the top of Pool D courtesy of a stunning 90 seconds that saw them score twice to defeat Belgium 2-0.

The telling period of the match came midway through the third quarter as Greta Hayes pounced to score her maiden international goal before Rebecca Greiner doubled the advantage in the blink of an eye.

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