It was a cagey first quarter of this match between two teams who were both looking for a first win of the tournament. For the first 15 minutes, Canada and South Africa defended solidly and there was little opportunity for either side to break the deadlock.
The breakthrough came in the 16th minute when Player of the Match Cameron le Forestier scored the first of a hat-trick of goals. All three of his strikes came courtesy of some swift build-up play by the African team, and the striker was on hand to send the ball past Zackary Coombs in the Canada goal.
Following that opening goal it was still an even match with Canada working hard to get back on terms but a second goal from Idrees Abdulla in the 26th minute and then a penalty stroke scored by captain Guy Morgan effectively ended Canada’s hopes of a first win.
They did score three goals in a flurry of activity in the final quarter but by then South Africa had scored four more goals, including a second for Morgan, and for Indy Sehmbi’s team it was just too late.
While pleased to have recorded a win in Bhubaneswar, Cameron le Forestier said his team were still seeking consistency in their performance:
“We’re still trying to chase that 60 minutes of good hockey. But today I think we just had about 30 minutes. So, till the next game we have to focus on that.
“Regarding my own performance, I think it’s just finding yourself in the right areas and then, when the ball comes to you, just take that opportunity. Our next objective is to make that 9th place finish.”
Canada’s captain Manveer Jhamat said:
“I’m really proud of the boys. We were resilient and able to bounce back, so I am proud of our efforts at the end. We are a much better team now than when we came here. There has been a lot of learning and growing as a team. Definitely we’re playing some of the best teams in the world, so it’s bound to making us better.”
The result means South Africa will face Pakistan in the next match as they contest 9-12 place. Canada will play continental neighbours USA as they seek a first win of the tournament.