World no.16 South Africa stormed into the finals of the FIH Men’s Hockey Series Finals in Bhubaneswar after going past USA in a pulsating first semi-final match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar today.
USA took the lead in the 15th minutes thanks to Aki Kaeppeler who netted a brilliant penalty corner goal and held the lead for two quarters.
Stunned by the goal, the Africans pressed hand in the second quarter but failed to utilise the chances and USA went into the breather leading by a solitary goal.
South Africa kept up the pressure in the third quarter and equalised when Austin Smith converted a penalty corner in the 42nd minute.
With scores tied in the final quarter, it looked like the match would go into a shootout however, South Africa’s Nic Spooner struck a goal with 38 seconds left on the clock to end USA’s hopes of winning through a shootout.
This was a real heartbreak for team USA who have been unbeaten throughout the tournament.
South Africa will play the winner of the Japan vs India second semi-final match, while USA will play the loser of the Japan vs India match for the 3/4th position.
Meanwhile earlier in the day, Russia scrapped past Poland in a classification match to finish fifth.