South Africa and Chile met in their opening encounter of the FIH Hockey Junior Women’s World Cup 2023. It was a tasty battle to wrap up the opening day of action as the hosts took on the previous edition hosts South Africa. South Africa qualified for the tournament by winning the Junior African Cup, while Chile qualified as hosts but finished third at the Pan American games.
If the anthems set the tone for the game, it would be a highly emotionally charged event. South Africa looked the more dangerous of the two teams in the early exchanges as Malikah Hamza, Ntsopa Mokoena and Tatum Kroutz all asked challenging questions for the hosts. But despite the upper hand and opening quarter of few substantial opportunities ended goalless as the two teams remained level at 0-0.
Early in the second quarter the opening penalty corner of the game was awarded to Chile after South Africa had failed to clear the lines, but it was routinely dealt with by the penalty corner defense team. Chile who was gaining ascendancy earned another penalty corner that was cleared off the line and the pressure began to ratchet up as another was awarded, but poor execution let the African champions off. South Africa were desperate to get their flair forwards involved but were struggling through the transitions in the second quarter. They were then punished for some lose defending, Josefina Gutierrez received the ball in the circle and turned on the reverse side to fire home. The score remained 1-0 at the half-time break.
South Africa started the second half with the same intensity they had started the first and Ntsopa Mokoena created a moment of magic that deserved a better end product. Almost immediately though Chile had won a fifth penalty corner when the ball struck the foot of Germarie Speershot. Again, the South African defense answered the questions with ease, but it was in chance creation that they were struggling to answer the tougher questions. They did however find something as quick ball movement gave Taheera Augousti space from which she released Mokoena who found the foot and won South Africa’s first penalty corner of the game. Although it was initially cleared the rebound ball came in and somehow Mokoena was not able to turn it in from a golden opportunity. 1-0 it remained with 15 minutes to play.
Early in the final quarter Chile struck the crossbar after a powerful strike. The replay showed it was a brilliant deflection by Daniella de Oliviera to divert it. Time was winding down quickly for the South Africans who weren’t helped by a green card awarded to Laiken Brisset with just nine minutes remaining. The Africans continued to press high but Chile were just about good enough to deny the South Africans any sort of olive branch back into the game. The South Africans created a huge opportunity as Paris-Gail Isaacs shot was saved but the ball was put deliberately out the back for a penalty corner.
Again the South African attempt was saved but again the rebound probably should have been converted at the back post as Chile were being stretched. With three minutes remaining South Africa won another penalty corner. Again the first effort was saved and the rebound was struck over the post by De Oliveira.
The South Africans fought until the last second but ultimately the one goal for the hosts was enough for an opening day victory, much to the delight of a big crowd in Chile.
The South African women are back in action in less than 24 hours. They face the defending champions Netherlands on Thursday (22:00 SA Time), who are looking for their first win of the tournament following an opening day draw. The game will be live on Supersport Action as well as the Watch.Hockey app.
FIH Women’s Junior World Cup 2023 – Results 29 November
Pool B – Korea 6-0 Zimbabwe
Pool A – Netherlands 2-2 Australia
Pool C – India 12-0 Canada
Pool B – Argentina 1-0 Spain
Pool C – Germany 0-6 Belgium
Pool A – South Africa 0-1 Chile
FIH Women’s Junior World Cup 2023 – Fixtures 30 November (SA Time)
15:00 – Pool D – England vs. New Zealand
17:00 – Pool D – United States vs. Japan
19:00 – Pool C – Belgium vs. Canada
21:30 – Pool C – India vs. Germany
23:30 – Pool A – South Africa vs. Netherlands
01:30 – Pool A – Australia vs. Chile