Jan 26, 2024

Remarkable comeback secures South Africa a semi-final spot.

The final 8 were battling it out this morning in Muscat, Oman for a place in the semi-finals of the inaugural FIH Hockey5s World Cup. South Africa had secured their spot winning three out of three in the group stage, while the Malaysians had survived a scare against Fiji to make it into the top 8.

South Africa came out brightly and opened the scoring in the second minute through the superb young star Rea Phume. She took on two players, evaded the challenge and fired home! But Malaysia soared back into the game remarkably and surprisingly. They levelled through Safiqah took the lead through Zafirah and stretched it to 3-1 through Dian. The South Africans were shellshocked but slowly but would receive another punch in the first half as Mohd converted a challenge to make it 4-1 to the Asian side.

South Africa needed to find a spark and on the verge of half-time it came from captain Toni Marks who pulled one back on the hooter to make it 4-2 at half-time. Receiving the ball with her back to goal Marks turned and fired hard into the bottom corner.

The African champions who felt that momentum in their favour managed to pull another goal back in the second half. Rea Phume fired in from distance and Marks leading run caught the keeper out as it went straight through. Malaysia would continue to hold out and deny the South Africans with the help of the woodwork and with 5 minutes remaining it was still 4-3 to the Malaysians.

The equalizer would come though for South Africa when Izelle Cilliers finished superbly. The Malaysians thought they had a goal, but it was rightfully ruled out and it was the South Africans who would next rock the scoreboard and the game. Rea Phume shot was deflected skywards and Toni Marks produced a sublime piece of aerial skills to slam dunk the ball into the back and give South Africa the lead

The South Africans would add gloss to the score-line as Toni Marks produced a similar goal again. Her shot was saved, and the rebound was fired low. South Africa had scored five unanswered goals to turn a three-goal deficit into a two-goal victory.

In securing a place in the semi-finals the team joins the SPAR South Africa women’s indoor hockey side as the only semi-finalists from South Africa at an FIH World Cup. They will be hoping to go even further though. They won’t have to wait long for the opportunity, the team will now play India in the Semi-Finals at 19:30 on Friday, exclusively available on Watch.Hockey.

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