South Africa's Austin Smith of South Africa is challenged by Cedric Charlier during Monday's 2017 Hockey World League match against Belgium. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa’s men’s team were outclassed and outplayed as they suffered a 9-1 hiding from Belgium in their final Hockey World League Semi-Finals pool match on Monday

Facing the prospect of missing out on the quarterfinals, South Africa needed a victory against the Rio Olympic Games silver medallists to advance to the playoffs the competition.

The result highlighted the massive gulf between the 15th ranked Proteas and the number-five team in the world.

While the Proteas women rose to the occasion given the same odds against the United States, the men withered away against an in-form Belgium.

Boasting one of the most potent attacks in the competition, Belgium went into the match having scored 18 goals while conceding only five.

South Africa faced immense pressure in the first chukka and instead of soaking it up, they crumbled to allow the Belgians to take a 2-0 lead.

It was clear the Proteas were on a hiding to nothing as they allowed the Belgians easy access into the circle and the back of the goal box.

Belgium signalled the start of their bloody rampage with their third goal before adding four more to go into the half-time break with a 7-0 advantage.

The visitors’ goal-fest came courtesy of two braces from Thomas Briels and Sebastien Dockier, with Nicolas Hendrickx, Nicolas de Kerpel, Gauthier Boccard, Loick Luypaert and Cedric Charlier also getting in on the action.

Dockier added his second goal three minutes after the restart before South Africa got onto the scoresheet in the 35th minute courtesy of Matthew Guise-Brown from a penalty corner.

If there are any positives South Africa can take out of the match it is the fact that they managed to limit the Belgians to only two goals in the second half.

While they missed a few opportunities to give the scoreboard some respectability, it would not have changed the outcome against a brutal and clinical Belgian side.

South Africa will now play for ninth place after losing to Ireland (2-0), Germany (4-3), and Egypt (2-1) before yesterday’s hammering.

The Star

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