Johannesburg - The South African women's student team have set up a semi-final clash with Mexico after defeating Japan 5-4 in a penalty shootout in the women's soccer tournament at the World Student Games in Russia.
South Africa came from two goals down to draw 3-3.
"The girls showed a lot of character, they showed fighting spirit and everyone was willing to die on the field," said South Africa's coach Jerry Laka.
"I was worried when we were 2-0 down, but the girls came back and showed they wanted it more."
Japan, the silver medallists at the 2011 Games in Shenzhen, charged into a 2-0 lead after 32 minutes, with Naoka Sakaramoto and Chiho Takahashi finding the back of the net.
However, the South Africans maintained their composure, with Jermaine Seoposenwe and former Banyana Banyana captain Amanda Dlamini drawing the sides level at the half-time break.
Leandra Smeda struck seven minutes after the interval, as they continued their gutsy comeback, and while Asuka Nishikawa equalised with 12 minutes left, the South African women were flawless in the spot-kick decider.
Earlier, the South African men's hockey side produced another brave showing, but went down 4-2 against hosts Russia to settle in third place in Group A.
"We threw everything at them in the second half, and created a lot of chances, but we just didn't take them," said South Africa's coach Sean Rapaport.
Owen Mvimbi put the South Africans in front in the 13th minute, but Pavel Plesetckii and Nikolay Yankun struck back to give Russia a 2-1 lead at the break.
Igor Sinyagin stretched the host nation's advantage with less than 10 minutes left, and while Mvimbi pulled one back soon after, to secure his brace, Anton Kornilov put the result beyond doubt with seconds remaining in the match.
South Africa face Malaysia on Saturday in a must-win clash as they go in search of a place in the medal playoffs.
Meanwhile, on the track, Ryndardt van Rensburg finished third in his men's 800m semifinal in 1:48.35, coasting into Friday's final.
The South Africas men's sprint relay teams also booked their places in the finals of their events.
The 4x100m relay quartet -- Akani Simbine, Henrico Bruintjies, Gideon Trotter and Jacques de Swardt -- were second in their heat in 39.94 seconds, despite the absence of men's 100m and 200m gold medallist Anaso Jobodwana, who was rested after competing in eight races in four days.
De Swardt was again involved in the men's 4x400m team, joining Pieter Conradie, PC Beneke and Wayde van Niekerk as they finished third in their heat in 3:09.88.
Bianca Erwee, lying 13th of 19 competitors overnight, climbed two places in the overall standings to finish 11th in the gruelling women's heptathlon with a total of 5317 points.
In the morning session, the country's swimming contingent, competing against world-class line-ups, were again unable to progress beyond the preliminary rounds of their disciplines.
Leith Shankland (men's 200m freestyle), Robyn Ferguson (women's 100m breaststroke), Trudi Maree (women's 100m freestyle), Neil de Villiers and Ayrton Sweeney (men's 200m individual medley) were all eliminated in their first-round heats, with Sweeney setting a personal best in his event.