History was made by the USA men and South African women as they secured their first-ever semifinal spots at the FIH Hockey World Cup in Pretoria, South Africa.
After a thrilling day of quarterfinal clashes, the final four places were determined with defending champions Austria up against Iran while the Netherlands will take on the USA for a spot in the men’s final.
2018 bronze medallists Iran earned their semifinal spot in dramatic fashion, coming from 0-3 down in the third quarter to beat eighth-ranked Belgium in a shootout. The Iranians managed to level the scores at 5-5 in the 37thminute and it then took an incredible 18 shots to decide the winners in the subsequent shootout.
Iran captain Behdad Beiranvand believed it was his team’s experience and composure that made all the difference.“Our team is more experienced than the Belgian team at the World Cup and four years ago we were in the semifinal,” he said. “So our team members are older and more experienced than theirs. I think that’s the main reason we won this game.”
Austria were next to secure their safe passage through to the final four with a 2-0 victory over Argentina, but it wasn’t until well into the third quarter that they first found the back of the net.
Austrian captain Leon Thörnblom was full of praise for the tournament debutants.
“It was a very tactical game. They played with great discipline and it was really tough to get through their defensive setup,” he said. “We would have liked to score a bit earlier but it’s a quarterfinal – you just have to win those, it doesn’t matter how.”
Meanwhile, both the USA and Namibia were looking to extend their history-making runs at the World Cup – with the quarterfinals being unchartered territory for both teams.
It was the Americans who had the edge. Namibia scored in the final minute of the match, but it was not enough to prevent a 3-2 win for the USA.
Captain Pat Harris, who represented the US in both their previous appearances at the World Cup, in 2003 and 2011 where they twice finished in 11th place, said: “It’s huge for us. This is the first time the US has even got out of the pool stages and the semifinals is the biggest success we’ve had with the men’s team so this is tremendous.
“For us it was another tough game. Namibia defended really well. They stood deep and we had to be really patient to find the openings. I’m glad we did and got the lead and then keep building our game.”
The Dutch were in rampant mood against hosts South Africa in the last men’s quarterfinal. The 2015 world champions racked up a 5-0 lead by half time. The home side suddenly came alive in the final quarter, scoring three goals of their own. But when the Dutch added another one to their own tally, the fightback fizzled out.
In the women’s tournament, the Czech Republic were the first side to book their place in the semifinals with a comprehensive 6-0 victory over Australia.
Czech captain Katerina Lacina said: “It’s an amazing feeling. We were a little bit nervous… we started a little bit slower than we wanted but in the end we scored a lot of goals so we are really happy about that.”
Austria were up next, notching up a 3-1 victory over Ukraine
“I think it was the mindset. I think we were very focused, our structure was very good, and we stayed very calm. I think that was the key and why we scored three goals,” said Austrian captain Miriam Gerö.
Both Belgium and South Africa were seeking their first-ever appearances in the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup semifinals when they met in the third women’s quarterfinal of the day.
It was the host nation who benefited from the backing of a fervent home crowd to produce their best World Cup result to date. A goal from South African captain Jess O’Connor off a penalty corner edged her side in front and Tegan Fourie doubled their lead just before halftime. But the Belgians came back through a final-quarter goal, and they were a nervous final few minutes until the 2-1 home win was secured.
A thrilled South African coach, Lennie Botha, said: “It's the dream game that you’re waiting for. We’ve worked very hard on our discipline and our structures and that’s what’s got us to where we are. The girls are committed and special… I just can’t believe it.”
In the final matchup of the day, it took 15 minutes for the Netherlands to breach the Canadian defence. But two hattricks, from Lieke van Wijk and Donja Zwinkels, steered the two-time world champions to a resounding 6-1 victory.
The Dutch will take on South Africa in Saturday’s semifinals while Austria will play the Czech Republic.
10 February 2023 Results
Result: Match 31 – women
New Zealand 4 – 3 Namibia
Player of the match: Kirsten Pearce (NZL)
Umpires: Ornpimol Kittiteerasopon (THA), Cathy Wright (WAL)
Result: Match 32 – women
USA 5 – 1 Kazakhstan
Player of the match: Hannah Miller (USA)
Umpires: Narongtuch Subboonsong (THA), Lyndal Robertson (RSA)
Result: Match 32 – men
Iran 5 (6) – 5 (5) Belgium
Player of the match: Reza Norouzzadeh (IRI)
Umpires: Ayden Shrives (RSA), Adam Barry (AUS)
Result: Match 33 – women
Czech Republic 6 – 0 Australia
Player of the match: Katerina Lacina (CZE)
Umpires: Cathy Wright (WAL), Lukasz Zwierzchowski (POL)
Result: Match 31 – men
Austria 2 – 0 Argentina
Player of the match: Michael Körper (AUT)
Umpires: Sean Edwards (ENG), Rachel Williams (ENG)
Result: Match 34 – women
Austria 3 – 1 Ukraine
Player of the match: Stella van Rahden (AUT)
Umpires: Melina Illanes (ARG), Celine Martin-Schmets (BEL)
Result: Match 34 – men
USA 3 – 2 Namibia
Player of the match: Aki Kaeppeler (USA)
Umpires: Lee Barron (ENG), Diego Barbas (ARG)
Result: Match 35 – women
Belgium 1 – 2 South Africa
Player of the match: Tegan Fourie (RSA)
Umpires: Emily Carroll (AUS), Lukasz Zwierzchowski (POL)
Result: Match 33 – men
Netherlands 6 – 3 South Africa
Player of the match: Boris Burkhardt (NED)
Umpires: Andres Ortiz (ESP), Sophie Bockelmann (GER)
Result: Match 36 – women
Netherlands 6 – 1 Canada
Player of the match: Lieke Van Wijk (NED)
Umpires: Ayden Shrives (RSA), Lyndal Robertson (RSA)