The 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup has brought a ton of surprises with itself. However, the match between Belgium and South Africa missed to become one such nail biting thriller. The Rio Olympics silver medalists were facing the African stalwarts, who needed to win this match at any cost in order to progress to the next round.
On the other hand, Belgium, who were at the same position as India, with a win and a draw, needed to win with at least more than 4 goals to proceed directly to the quarterfinals. Initially, they were in for a huge surprise, as South Africa shocked the Belgians when Nicholas Spooner broke through the relatively strong defence and struck a field goal to take a crucial lead for one whole quarter.
Even though Belgium tried their best, they couldn't break the spirits of the South Africans who were determined to bring up another shocker on the lines of what France had delivered to Olympic champions Argentina, who were defeated 3-5 in their final league match. The Belgians, however, had other plans.
Down but not out, the Red Lions bounced back fiercely in the 2nd quarter, with the penalty corner specialists Alexander and Loick Luypaert out on the task to pull Belgium out of the trouble.
Even Vincent Vanasch, who couldn't prevent the first goal by Nicholas Spooner, bounced back in time, denying South Africa any chance to score an equalizer. By the time the match ended, the score ended 5-1, complete opposite to the expectations of South Africa.
With this, not only Belgium proved their mettle, but also bounced back from the initial shock in order to proceed to the next round, even though they were relegated to the crossovers.
#3 South Africa failed to build on their miraculous lead
South Africa, who are relatively sidelined in every other tournament as minnows, had their moment to reclaim glory as they attacked from the first whistle. Surprised by their relentless assault, Belgium gave way in the very first minute, when Nicholas Spooner broke through their defence, and outfoxed Belgian goalkeeper Vincent Vanasch by striking a crisp field goal in the very 1st minute, giving South Africa a shock lead of 1-0.
If that wasn't enough, South Africa continuously attacked the Belgian circle, making two more circle entries within the 1st quarter. Initially, Belgium couldn't come to terms with the assault, and tried every trick up their sleeve, but to no avail. For almost one full quarter, South Africa surprisingly kept Belgium at bay, maintaining their narrow, but surprising lead of 1-0.
Sadly, this enthusiasm couldn't last long, and with the start of the second quarter, Belgium struck back fiercely, and soon enough, the small moment of joy for the South Africans ended as they lost their lead, and subsequently the match.