Johannesburg - South Africa lost to Japan in a penalty shootout, after giving away a late own goal, in their playoff clash at the men's World League hockey semifinals in Johor Malaysia, on Saturday.
With scores levelled at 2-2 after regulation time, Japan bagged a 1 -0 win in a tightly contested shootout -- Kei Kawakami scoring the only goal -- to set up a clash against hosts Malaysia in the playoff for fifth and sixth positions.
The South Africans, who have not won any of their five matches thus far in the tournament, will face Pakistan on Sunday for seventh and eighth places, in an effort to avoid the wooden spoon.
Without captain Austin Smith and Jonty Robinson, sidelined due to illness, the SA men struggled in the first half and trailed 1-0 at the break after Manabu Hatakeyama scored a penalty corner.
South Africa came back well to equalise through Craig Haley off a penalty corner rebound in the 56th minute, and Wade Paton gave them a 2-1 lead shortly after the hour mark.
In the dying seconds, however, the South Africans gave away a goal as Japan were handed the equaliser.