South Africa’s Austin Smith scored two goals to celebrate his 150th game for his country.
Despite Smith’s goals South Africa lost 3-4 against Germany in the FIH World Hockey League Semi-Finals.
The home team had a great start to the match by dominating the first chukka with various shots at goal and two penalty corners. It was pretty much the same storyline in the second chukka with South Africa getting multiple penalty corners and shots at goal, but the score-line showed 1-0 to Germany when the halftime hooter sounded. Moritz Trompertz scored with three minutes left after the visiting team did most of the defending for the first 30 minutes of the match.
It was heart breaking for the home team when the Germany’s Niklas Wellen and Matts Grambusch scored mere minutes after the start of the third chukka.
With their fifth penalty corner the South African finally got on the scoreboard in not only the match but also the tournament. Smith hit the back of the goal-box in the 37th minute to finally give the home crowd something to cheer about and celebrate his 150th game for his country.
Smith followed it up with another penalty corner goal and then six minutes later the former captain set up Jonty Ronbinson for SA’s third goal. With four minutes left the score was 3-4 after being 1-4 behind at one stage.
With the crowd already on their feet South Africa got a penalty corner with 55 seconds let, but Germany’s goalkeeper Mark Appel gave his all to save the shot from Smith. “We had a fantastic crowd and what a great honour to have played my 150th game in this environment. I am gutted and disappointed though that we could not pull it through after fighting back so well. I am grateful for the 150 times I could have played for my country. It was difficult to be down, but respect to the team to keep their heads up and keep fighting,” said Smith.
Jethro Eustice added: “It was great when the crowd got involved in the final 10 minutes. And we almost pulled a sneaky equaliser at the end. After the Ireland match we spoke about keeping up the energy despite the score-line and we managed to do that today.”
South Africa is ranked 15th on the world rankings. Germany is 3rd and also won bronze at the Rio Games last year.
Tim Drummond and his men will be in action on Saturday again this time coming up against Egypt at 16:00. The SA women’s next match is on Friday against Chile at 14:00.
All matches in the Hockey World League Semi-Final are played at the Wits Hockey Astro in Johannesburg. Twenty of the world’s best men and women’s national teams will take part in these Hockey World Cup 2018 qualifiers from 8 - 23 July.
Tickets for the event can be purchased online at http://hockeyworldleague.nutickets.co.za/HWL
All matches are broadcasted live on SuperSport. Be sure to follow the teams on Twitter at @SA_Hockey_Men and @sawomenshockey