Wasteful South Africa rue missed chances

Junior Hockey World CupRussel Kane (14) scored the only goal that took New Zealand through to the quarter-final

South Africa were left ruing missing a host of scoring opportunities against New Zealand as they were knocked out of a quarterfinal spot in the Junior World Cup on Monday. Needing simply not to lose to advance, they failed to convert five penalty corners as they eventually lost 1-0 to a side that will count themselves fortunate to be going through.

In a way, South Africa were carrying on from their previous game, against Malaysia. They had a penalty stroke, which if they had converted would have given them a draw, and made New Zealand's task already hard after losing three key players to Delhi Belly far more difficult. But they didn't.

Five minutes into the game against New Zealand, they had as good a chance as any. Andrew Mason had burst free on the right flank, and passed past an advancing New Zealand keeper Ben Smith, to a perfectly positioned Damian Kimfley. Kimfley had time enough to line up his shot, a couple of metres from an empty goal but his blooded swing connected so poorly that the ball was cleared by a very relieved Kiwi defender as it trickled to the line.

Even after Kimfley's miss, South Africa had chances especially through penalty corners but were denied each time by Smith who was only playing because first choice keeper Richard Joyce was unable to take the field. While the South Africans were unable to breakthrough, they were dominant elsewhere. Individually more skillfull than the Kiwis, Darryn Galagher's men were creating chance after chance and when the sides went into the break at 0-0 no one was more relieved than the New Zealand coach Grant Edward.

"We weren't playing our game in the first half. We were attempting to beat the South Africans while dribbling and that's not what we are good at. At half time, I told the team that we had to get accurate passes and switch possession from side to side. That way we created a lot more opportunities for ourselves," said Edward.

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