5 May 2014
The South African women’s hockey team claimed third place in the FIH Champions Challenge in Glasgow on Sunday after edging Spain 1-0 in a tightly contested match for the bronze medal. The USA lifted the title with a 3-1 victory over Ireland.
Dirkie Chamberlain’s penalty stroke three minutes from time decided the outcome. “I just took it as though it was in a training session,” she said afterwards.
The victory served as a degree of consolation for the girls in green and gold, who were desperately unfortunate to lose their Saturday semi-final 2-1 to Ireland despite dominating the match.
‘We are elated’
“We came out today and gave everything. It’s a wonderful team. We really got stuck in,” Chamberlain said. “We are elated, but I must pay a compliment to Spain for giving us such a great match. They didn’t make it easy for us, but we just kept going, never stopped believing.”
The crowd gave both sides a lengthy ovation in appreciation of a match that proved one doesn’t have to have a lot of goals to make for an enthralling contest. On another day, though, the score might well have gone into double figures.
Chamberlain had taken a fearful blow to the head as early as the seventh minute and had to be helped off, but the goal scorer returned to the fray less than five minutes later, which was indicative of the determination with which South Africa approached the match.
Both goalkeepers, Anelle van Deventer and Spain’s Maria Zubiria de Eguilaz Lopez, made a number of fine saves, while to a player both sides gave their all and then some. Even though the score was low, both sides shone on attack, while on defence some of the South African tackle-backs to regain possession were out of the top drawer.
Chamberlain’s winner came after succesive shots by Celia Evans and Bernie Coston after South African captain Marsha Cox had made the initial pass. Coston’s effort hit a defender’s foot on the goal line, and Chamberlain went low to Lopez’s right from the penalty spot for the decisive moment of the match.
The SA team touch down in Johannesburg Tuesday morning before flying to The Netherlands five days later for a training camp ahead of the World Cup in The Hague, which takes place from 31 May to 15 June.
SOUTH AFRICA RESULTS