London - The South African women's side on
Wednesday produced the longest match of the London Olympic hockey
tournament thus far in their clash against Japan.
Japan won the closely-contested 9th/10th playoff classification fixture at the Riverbank Arena 2-1.
sides were deadlocked after the final whistle and could only be
separated after the second period of extra-time, as SA suffered their
fifth loss of the tournament.
Having won only one of their five
pool B encounters, SA entered the match hoping to round off their London
Olympic campaign on a high after a disappointing group stage.
SA and Japan finished fifth in their respective pools, with Japan
taking four points -- following a win over China and a draw to Belgium.
SA had a single, 7-0 victory over the US in their final pool match.
sides looked wary in the opening half, as neither went on the attack,
opting to keep the ball between the midfield and defence before looking
to enter their opponents' area.
The fixture was brought to life
when SA opened the scoring in the 28th minute through Lisa Deetlefs, who
got a touch off Kate Woods' shot from the South Africans' second
penalty corner (PC) of the match.
SA goalkeeper Mariette Rix gave
a superb performance once again, keeping her side in the lead in the
second period, making vital saves from Japan's PCs.
Japan grew increasingly frustrated at their lack of opportunities as SA shrugged off their attacks.
Japanese side had much of the possession throughout the second half but
SA's defence held firm as Japan tried to claw their way back into the
game and find the equaliser.
The pressure finally told as Japan's
Ai Murakami scored her first goal of the tournament from a Japan PC,
eight minutes from time.
SA were reduced to nine players with
four minutes left on the clock through ill-discipline. Kate Woods and
Bernadette Coston sat out the dying minutes of the clash.
South Africans were lucky not to concede again with just seconds left to
play. Japan missed a golden opportunity to steal victory with a cross
from the right flank, narrowly missing a Japanese attacker in the area,
with Rix left stranded.
The sides entered into extra-time (two
seven-and-a-half minute halves) looking for the golden goal to end the
match. Japan picked up where they left off, continuing to apply the
pressure on the world number 12 South Africans.
first half of extra time was followed by disappointment in the second as
Japan won a PC with just five minutes of play left.
to score from the PC, but umpire Stella Bartlema pointed to the penalty
spot after a further infringement by the South Africans.
Ai Murakami then scored her second of the match to finish the contest, condemning SA to a 10th-place finish.