FIH Hockey World Cup: Argentina overcome South Africa in opener

Argentina overcame a dogged but wasteful South Africa at the Kalinga Stadium in the opener

NEW DELHI | Updated: 13 January, 2023 8:27 pm IST
Argentina (in white) beat South Africa by a solitary goal

Argentina failed to stamp their authority but did enough to beat South Africa 1-0 in the opening match of the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup on January 13.

At the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, Argentina earned six penalty corners but managed to convert only one. Maico Casella’s 43rd minute was just enough to save the day for the 2016 Olympic gold medallist.

South Africa, on the other hand, were no match for the former World No. 1 team, but they paid the price for failing to grab the opportunities that came their way.

The African Cup of Nations champion generated three penalty corner opportunities. But they paid the price for failing to convert any of their penalty corners.

While both teams matched each other in the first quarter but failed to grab the chances, Argentina stepped up in the second.

The South Americans earned two penalty corners in the 18th minute but failed to convert them. However, they did not let their guard down, nor did they let emotions get the better of them.

With the South Africans struggling in their attack, Argentina continued with their offensive, which resulted in another penalty corner.

Luckily for South Africa, goalkeeper Gowan Jones stood tall under the bar as the first half ended without a goal.

But by the break, Argentina had gotten into the groove, and they kept the momentum going in the second half. And it was Jones once again who denied them another opportunity in the 34th minute.

Five minutes later, South Africa finally managed to earn their first penalty corner. But they failed to breach the Argentine defence.

The attempt only added urgency to Argentina’s attack, as they launched an offensive with renewed vigour. It resulted in the only goal of the match as Casella struck a stunning strike from the left flank in the 43rd minute.

While Argentina missed another opportunity a minute later, South Africa mounted a strong challenge in the final quarter. Their efforts resulted in consecutive penalty corners in the 51st minute, but the Africans failed to crack the Argentine defence.

From then on, it was the wastefulness of both teams that became prominent as Argentina looked happy to seal the deal.

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