The first set of cross-over matches showed the two sides of penalty corners. For Germany, although they managed to carve out a 1-0 win over South Africa, they will look back with frustration at the multiple chances that went begging. Then Belgium stepped up and put on a consummate display of finishing from set pieces as they beat Chile 5-0.
The result mean that Chile now play China and South Africa face Ireland in the race to finish top of the 13-16 positions. Germany will now play New Zealand in the quarter-finals, while Belgium will face neighbours and reigning champions, the Netherlands.
Germany vs South Africa (crossover)
With Germany sitting fourth in the FIH World Rankings and South Africa in 16th position, this was always going to be a tough ask for the lower-ranked team. However, a combination of resilient, stubborn defending, grea goalkeeping and a smattering of luck, kept the scores at 1-o and South Africa would have gained a huge amount of international respect for their performance.
The first half was all about German pressure and some resilient South African defence, with a 0-0 scoreline the result. Amelie Wortmann came closest in those opening exchanges but her shot went just wide.
Valentin Altenburg, the German Head Coach, said at half-time that he was happy with the way his team were approaching and playing the game, except in the final action in front of goal.
Certanly six penalty corners, to South Africa’s two, had given Germany every opportunity to score but in the first 30 minutes things just didn’t click for the higher ranked team
Head Coach to South Africa Gile Bonnet spoke of the element of luck that his team had enjoyed, although he also praised the work of his defence.
The second half saw Germany really exert a lot of pressure on the South Africa circle. There was a noticeable increase in intensity and early pressure saw a series of penalty corners awarded. Phumelela Mbande made a great double save from the first, then Germany messed up the routine for the next one.
It was on the third attempt that Nike Lorenz finally broke the deadlock with a exquisitely placed shot. The goal seemed to lift the lid on the tension within the German side and the attacking moves started flowing. Viktoria Huse sent a shot over the South Africa crossbar and Pia Maertens and Anne Schroeder began to make a real nuisance of themselves in and around the circle.
Despite this, the score remained at just 1-0 as the teams entered the final quarter. This was largely due to the courageous running at penalty corners by Kristen Paton and Jean-Leigh du Toit. Germany will be concerned that they won 16 penalty corners and scored from just one.
Just as Bonnet was contemplating taking off his goalkeeper for the final minutes, Edith Molikoe recieved a card and so that option was removed.
Player of the Match Nike Lorenz (GER) said: ‘It was a hard game. We have never played against South Africa and scored a lot of goals, so that was no surprise. We definitely need to get more out of our penalty corners next time. To be in with a chance of winning this World Cup we have to score more goals.’
Belgium vs Chile
Belgium got off to the best of starts as they withstood a flurry of Chile activity in their circle, intercepted the ball through the good positioning of Michelle Struijk, sped up the other end of the pitch and won a penalty corner. Stephanie Vanden Borre made no mistake as she struck the ball into the corner of Claudia Schuler’s goal.
A second penalty corner was brilliantly saved by Schuler, but Belgium won two re-awards in quick succession. however, it was a beautiful piece of free running from Louise Versavel, after she receive a pass from Alix Gerniers, that led to the second goal. Versavel ran at pace up the left hand side of the pitch then fired the ball across to Justine Rasir to nudge home.
Just before the quarter time whistle, Stephanie Vanden Borre scored her second goal to really put Belgium in the driving seat.
Chile’s agony intensified in the second quarter when Charlotte Engelbert found herself in the right place to slot a rebounded penalty corner shot into the goal.
The third quarter produced one further gaol and it was a cracker. Charlotte Engelbert picked up the ball in her own half and then changed gear to race up the pitch, round the last defender and then shot past the fast approaching goal keeper.
In the fourth quarter Chile really didn’t allow their higher ranked opponents to rest on their laurels as they won a series of penalty corners. Unfortunately for Sergio Vigil and his players, the Belgium defence were as fired up as the forward line.
Belgium had a chance to score a sixth in the dying minutes of the game but Schuler pulled off another fabulously athletic save to deny Ambre Ballenghein.
Player of the Match Charlotte Engelbert (BEL) said: ‘I thought it was going to be a bit tougher but we scored goals early and that calmed us down. It is nice to play in front of our supporters and now we are looking forward to playing Holland next week. We have nothing to lose.’
Chile’s captain Camila Caram said: ‘It was a tough game. It was hard to keep up the levels throughout the whole tournament. I think our levels dropped in this game a bit. Now we have to turn the page and focus on our next match, tomorrow. Everyhting for us is a first time, so we are just trying to keep up with the big teams.’
The action in the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup continues on Sunday 10 July, with the first two matches taking place at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen. Ireland will play South Africa in the 9-16 play-offs at 13:00, followed by China against Chile at 15:30.
Then it is the second set of cross-over matches, with England against Korea at 18:00, then Spain against India at 21:30. Both of these matches will be played at the Estadi Olimpic de Terrassa. All times are CEST.