South Africa men’s hockey team is seeing a revival as they pulled another hard-fought 2-1 victory over Russia, in a crossover quarter-final FIH Series match played on Thursday in Bhubaneswar, India.
SA’s goals came from the in-form Nqobile Ntuli and Ryan Julius, while the Russians fired home a penalty corner through Georgii Arussia after goalie Rassie Pieterse had superbly saved a previous attempt. Vice-captain Keenan Horne shares his thoughts on the game.
The SA national team is aware that a top two finish will keep them in contention for 2020 Olympic qualification, as they seek to cement the road to Tokyo, Japan.
Assistant coach Sihle Ntuli is relieved to see the team showing up at moments when it counts the most.
Next up for South Africa is a semi-final clash against the USA, who have already beaten SA in this tournament’s pool stage 2-0 and the local team will relish the opportunity to avenge that defeat. Ntuli feels the preparations for this game will determine the team’s performance.
Horne says the team will come into this game as underdogs and that can work in the SA men’s favour. – Report by Jefferson Lupuwana