SA men book Olympics spot
Johannesburg - South Africa will be represented in
the men's and women's hockey tournaments at the London Olympic Games
after the men's team defeated hosts Japan 2-1 in the final of the last
qualifying tournament in Kakamigahara on Sunday.
The SA men went unbeaten in their six matches and held off a fighting Japanese outfit to book their ticket to London.
The women's side had won an earlier qualifying tournament in Delhi, India, in February.
going into half-time locked at 0-0 against Japan, the SA men came out
firing after the break, soaking up the pressure in a thrilling second
The South Africans opened the scoring through a moment of
individual brilliance from Thornton McDade 11 minutes into the second
McDade dribbled through the Japanese defence before
rounding the goalkeeper and tapping home into an empty goal to give his
side the lead.
Lloyd Norris-Jones stretched the gap with 16
minutes left to play through a counter attack after Japan failed to
convert a penalty corner. Norris-Jones fired his back-handed shot at
the Japanese 'keeper who deflected the ball before it went in.
hit back and scored through Kenji Kitazato and piled the pressure on
SA, who had struggled defensively throughout the tournament.
Rassie Pieterse made several crucial saves to keep South Africa in the
lead, thwarting the Japanese attack as he helped his side secure the
last available place for the London Games in July.