|December 1st, 2012|
|17||Placement||8:30am||RSA - JPN||1 - 2 (1 - 1)||Final|
Tachibana strike helps Japan sink South Africa
A second half strike from Toshiro Tachibana was enough to give Japan a 2-1 win over South Africa in the opening match of the day here at the Argentina Hockey Men’s Champions Challenge in Quilmes. The result puts Japan in Sunday’s 5-6 placement match, while South Africa will compete in the 7-8 classification game.
Japan were slow starters in the match and fell behind to the lively South Africans when Austin Smith both won and converted a penalty corner, sending a blistering effort into the roof of the net with only three minutes on the clock. The goal proved to be something of a wake-up call for the team from Asia, who immediately stepped up their game but despite plenty of possession failed to genuinely threaten the South Africa circle. That was until they won their first penalty corner in the 17th minute, with Katsuyoshi Nagasawa producing a low, perfectly placed drag flick to tie the score. South African captain Smith forced a double save from Japan keeper Katsuya Takese with a penalty corner late in the half, but the two teams went into the break with the scores level at 1-1.
South Africa came close to conceding with Japan’s first serious attack of the second half, and would have certainly scored were it not for Rhett Halkett, who showed full commitment to slide in and clear a goal-bound shot off the line. Japan’s second goal, which proved to be the winner, arrived in the 43rd minute when Toshiro Tachibana got ahead of his man to deflect a cross from the right past South Africa keeper Jacques le Roux before Katsuyoshi Nagasawa went close to making it 3-1 with a penalty corner drag-flick.
South Africa battled hard in the latter stages of the match and would surely have scored were it not for more goalkeeping heroics from Takese. Arguably their best chance of the second half came with just three minutes remaining through Nicholas Gonsalves, who failed to hit the target with a close range deflection before Japan ran down the clock to seal the victory.
Gregg Clark (RSA Coach)
“The match was just what I expected. I think we were a better team in terms of performance, but the score doesn’t reflect that. We had more penalty corners and more chances on goal than them, but we just not getting the job done at the moment.”
“Tomorrow’s match is very important for us. It’s a relegation match, and there are a lot of reasons to win tomorrow.”
Austin Smith (RSA Captain)
“We created a lot of chances that no-one scored, and that has happened to us in the past two or three games. Now we find ourselves in a very difficult situation, playing for the relegation match. That is a frustration.”
Shunsuke Nagahoka (JPN Coach)
“I’m happy with the performance. The players wanted to win the match and worked hard together for that. South Africa played very well but they were not lucky today. I wanted to end this tournament in the top four, but we had a short time for our preparation so we are now aiming for fifth place.”
Toshiro Tachibana (JPN Scorer)
“Today we are happy because we got a victory. We didn’t beat them in the Pool, but we could do it today. We are happy because we improved our skills today.”
We came to this tournament aiming to finish in the top four, but now we have changed our focus and we want to end in the fifth place.”