The South African Hockey Men, ranked 15th in the world, took on the 10th ranked Malaysians in a match to decide which of the two sides would play in the 9-12th bracket and who would drop to 13-16 pool.
The South Africans looked the better team from the start and almost had a lead with an early penalty corner. But they did get the lead their early dominance deserved. Sam Mvimbi received the ball in the circle, waited for the pass, and picked out Brad Sherwood who finished superbly. The South Africans could and probably should have made it 2 before the end of the quarter as they wasted several penalty corner opportunities.
They did however make the penalty corner count in the second quarter. The initial shot was saved, in fact the second shot was saved too, but it fell to Guy Morgan, and he fired home for his first International goal for South Africa and doubled the lead.
Captain Dayaan Cassiem almost made it 3 with an incredible piece of individual skill. But his shot was incredibly saved on the pad and trickled inches wide of the goal. The South Africans would get their third and deservingly so. The ball was fed inside and a halfhearted clearance from the Malaysians fell to Bli Ntuli who netted his second of the tournament and gave the team a convincing lead at the half time break.
Despite the superb showing in the first half the South Africans saw their lead cut down by one as Razie Rahim finished from a penalty corner to re-ignite the Malaysian challenge. The Malaysians were visibly buoyed by their goal and raised their momentum, but the likes of Eustice and Bell were frustrating the attacking attempts regularly.
Tevin Kok and Ryan Julius combined sensationally to create an opportunity, but Tevin Koks shot was saved well by Othman on his glove side. Brad Sherwood came incredibly close to double his tally with a snap reverse shot but it went agonizingly wide. The goal felt like it was coming and that’s exactly what happened. Keenan Horne reacted to a great run from Sam Mvimbi and smashed it home. It improved even further for the African champions when Sam Mvimib was taken down and a stroke was awarded. Mustapha Cassiem got his first World Cup goal finishing with a super strike.
Malaysia was given a lifeline themselves when they were given a stroke after a clumsy challenge by Lembethe, and Rahim doubled his and Malaysia’s tally. South Africa leading 5-2 with a quarter remaining.
Malaysia was pushing in the final quarter, but South Africa held them off before striking a sensational counter attacking goal that saw Brad Sherwood net from a wonderful cross from Dayaan Cassiem. Malaysia immediately pulled a goal back, but the South Africans always looked more likely to add to the scoreline rather than concede.
As a result, the South Africans will have the opportunity to finish in the top 10 when they play their final game at the World Cup in two days. This already is the teams highest finish in a 16-team world cup tournament, but they will look to finish in the top 10, a great achievement considering the ranking of 15.