South Africa scored a late goal to eke out a 2-1 victory over the USA and enter the summit clash of the FIH Series Finals hockey tournament here Friday. The first semifinal between South Africa, the second highest ranked team in the tournament at 16, and world no. 25 The USA was a hard-fought duel with the Americans looking on course for another upset win till the 42nd minute.
Despite South Africa dominating the early exchanges, it was the USA who took the lead in the 15th minute through a penalty corner conversion by Aki Kaeppeler. Stunned by the goal, the Africans pressed hand in the second quarter but failed to utilise the chances and the 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. From there on, both the teams tried hard to score the all-important winner but just when it looked the tournament would witness its first shoot-out, South Africa capitalise on USA's defensive lapse and struck just at the stroke of the final hooter through Nicholas Spooner to march into Saturday's final.
The win came as sweet revenge for the Africans who were beaten 2-0 by the USA in the pool stages of the tournament. Just like Wednesday and Friday's morning matches, there was a water break of one-minute after seven-and-half minutes of first two quarters because of extreme heatwave conditions.
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