The SA Hockey men's team upon arrival in India. Photo: @TheHockeyIndia on twitter

BHUBANESWAR - The South African men's hockey team were beaten 2-0 by the United States in an International Hockey Federation (FIH) match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India, on Thursday.

The match was the first on the Road to Tokyo FIH Hockey Series Final. 

With the Series Final an Olympic qualifying event, the top two nations qualify for the Olympic Qualifying matches later this year to earn a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. 

The opening quarter saw both sides play on the back foot as both looked determined not concede an early goal, but it was South Africa with the best early chance as Matt de Sousa fired wide after some good work. 

Subscribe to the IOL Sport Newsletter!

In the second quarter, South Africa raised the tempo and intensity and struck the post through the impressive Nic Spooner. 

In fact, South Africa did everything right except score in a quarter that saw USA goalkeeper Jonathan Kiages the standout player in the half.

Despite all the penalty corners the South Africans won, they could not convert as USA eventually took the lead controversially at their own penalty corner when the ball was put home by Christian de Angelis after it appeared to strike his body. 

With no video referrals, the South Africans had to accept the call and charge up the other end.

As the Americans sat further back South Africa surged forward but they were met time after time by a brick wall of defenders.

The South Africans were then caught on the counter to rub salt into a very fresh wound and Paul Singh made no mistake to fire home. 

South Africa will have very little time to wallow in disappointment as the focus will quickly shift to the second game of the group stage against Japan on Saturday. 

African News Agency (ANA)