SA, Austria draw final group match

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Austin_Smith3 Gallo Images SA captain Austin Smith.

The SA men's hockey team twice came from behind to draw 2-2 against Austria in their final group match of the Olympic qualifying tournament on Friday.

South Africa went unbeaten in their five group matches in Kakamigahara, Japan.

The result, however, was inconsequential, as SA had already booked their place in Sunday's final against the host nation, which they must win to qualify for the London Games.

Michael Korper opened the scoring for Austria 20 minutes into the game through a penalty corner.

Having started slowly, SA picked up the pace toward the end of the first half, with Tim Drummond and captain Austin Smith coming closest to scoring.

The South Africans started the second period looking the more likely to score but the stubborn Austrian defence held firm through the early exchanges.

SA finally broke through, earning a penalty corner 13 minutes into the second half, which Smith fired into the goal.

Austria reclaimed the lead eight minutes later after a penalty corner allowed Georg Jelinek to put the ball away for Austria's second.

Smith led from the front and levelled the scores six minutes from the end through another well-worked penalty corner.

The result saw SA finish the group stage on 11 points, two behind Japan. – Sapa


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