South Africa’s national women’s hockey team qualified for the quarterfinals of the FIH Hockey World League Semi-Finals after a dramatic win over the USA.
Two goals from Candice Manual sealed the victory for South Africa after trailing twice in the match to win 3-2. Manual’s second goal gave SA the lead with nine minutes to go. The last few minutes the home crowd went wild to help the team keep that lead despite final attacks from America.
At halftime the score was 1-1. Melissa Gonzalez scored in the 14th minute to give the USA the lead after the first chukka. After brilliant work from Shelley Jones on the counter-attack Jade Mayne made it 1-1 in the 27th minute.
The USA took the lead again with one minute left in the third chukka when Jill Witmer hit the back of the goal-box. Candice Manuel made it all square again after some brilliant work between herself and Bernadette Coston. Less than two minutes later Manual scored again.
With their back against the wall the SA women stepped up big time in the second half. They played with intensity that lacked in previous games.
Sheldon Rostron was a very proud and emotional coach afterwards. “I am really happy. I actually have no words. My heart is pounding like crazy. The team had to dig deep for the victory. We wanted to work some shots at goals and score form it and we did that. We have learnt some lessons and I am excited with what we have achieved today.”
Goal-scorer Manual added: “It is great to score goals and win matches because we live for moments like these. When I score I am really happy and I had to show it!”
Captain Sulette Damons was also a happy camper. “We kept believing we could win even though we went behind twice. I am proud of my team.”
South Africa will play against Germany in the quarterfinal on Tuesday.
Tomorrow the SA men’s team is up against Belgium at 18:00. Belgium played in the final of the 2016 Rio Olympics. The only way the team can reach the next round is by beating Belgium who is in rampant form.
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