Hockey World Cup 2018: Belgium vs South Africa - 3 Talking Points
Shane McLeod's side had quite a task on their hands in their last pool game of the Hockey World Cup. They had to beat the South Africans by at least half a dozen goals to exert pressure on India in an effort to top the pool.
The hosts, however, had the luxury of knowing exactly what was to be done, unlike the Belgians who played the first match of the evening and had no way of knowing just how many it would require to get past the Indians on goal difference.
The South Africans did not make Belgium's task any easier by scoring a stunner in the opening seconds while the final hooter too played spoilsport for the Olympic silver-medalists by sounding a couple of seconds before the ball found the back of the net for the sixth time.
Stung by the early reverse, the Red Lions came back strongly to lead 4-1 at halftime but failed to continue the goal fest in the second half -and following India's emphatic win against Canada, the Belgians will have to aim for the quarterfinals via the crossovers just as the Canadians will.
Let us take a look at 3 factors that may have been significant in determining the ultimate course of the match which ended with a 5-1 scoreline in Belgium's favour.
#3 South Africa begins with a bang and causes a few ripples
The crowd had just begun to take their seats and the Red Lions were just about settling into their respective positions when Nicholas Spooner advanced menacingly and made his way to the Belgian circle without being challenged.
Spooner then picked up a long cross from the left and sent a scorcher from the edge of the circle which Vincent Vanasch may have been able to stop on another day - or indeed if he had been better prepared for what was coming.
The Belgians who relish storming the opposition circle with early attacks had a taste of their own medicine for once and the goal could not have come at a worse time for a side who were aiming to score as many as they could instead of having to play catch up.
Julian Hykes then had a chance to double the lead which could have been disastrous for the Belgians who took a while to recover before tilting the scales on their lower-ranked rivals.