WORLDSPORTPICS COPYRIGHT FRANK UIJLENBROEK
All eyes would have moved from the group stages to the positional playoff game in Berlin, but the BlitzStoks still had a match to play that could alter the tournament for other teams. With that in mind, the South African men headed to the venue to take on the Belgians. It should be remembered that Belgium was on the back of finishing as runner-up at the European Championship.
Once again the BlitzStoks appeared to employ a defensive setup, but in truth, it was just the class of the Belgians putting SA under immense pressure with each wave of attack. Within ten minutes Belgian had scored three goals through Maxime Plennevaux, Gaetan Dykmans, and Tanguy Zimmer. South Africa was offered a glimmer of hope when skipper Matt Fairweather scored and competed gamely for the next 10 minutes. However, on the stroke of half-time, the Belgians re-established their three-goal lead with Dykmans second. 4-1 at half-time and plenty to work on if they were to get back into the game and compete.
The second half followed a similar route before Tom Boon scored a penalty corner goal for the first time in the match by the Belgians. Skipper Matt Fairweather got his second of the game and third of the tournament and it again preceded a good period of opportunity that was not capitalised on. That period of dominance was put to a halt when Plennevaux popped up with his second. As the game wore down, South Africa wore down to and there was time for two more goals for the European Championship silver medallists, with both Tom de Groote and Dykmans getting on the score sheet.
The game had ended 8-2 and with it South Africa’s group stage of fixtures had come to an end without really showing their ability or class consistently enough. They will have one last chance to do so when they take on Kazakhstan for 11 and 12 on Saturday morning. The match is worth an additional 50 world ranking points for the winner and could prove massive in South Africa moving into the top 10 of the World Rankings.
Special thanks to the BlitzStoks sponsors Tops at SPAR, Sunlife Vitamins, Gem Schoolwear, Tayla Sportswear and Pro Series Indoor.
South Africa Results at the Indoor Hockey World Cup 2018
South Africa 0-5 Russia
South Africa 3-6 Austria
South Africa 1-3 Switzerland
South Africa 3-6 Iran
South Africa 2-8 Belgium
Fixture for 10 February 2018
11th place playoff - Kazakhstan vs. South Africa @ 10:30 (German Time)