WATCH: South African women relieved to save draw at Ice Hockey World Cup

South Africa’s women’s ice hockey team bounced back from a disastrous start to their World Cup decider against Japan on Tuesday night, going 3-0 with 20 minutes left to salvage a 3-3 draw by avoiding quarter-final elimination in Terrassa. Spain.

After conceding two goals in the first eight minutes, South Africa then lost 3–0 three minutes into the second half. Indecisive on the ball and unreliable in defense, the hopes of the African champions were shaken.

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But then they fought back superbly when Ontatile Zulu gave the Japanese defense a hot time with her flank attacks.

South Africa was on the board at 37th minute thanks to a reflex throw by Kristen Paton after a rebound from Kayla de Waal.

The team sits at 16th place in the world rankings continued to put pressure on the 10th– Japanese in last quarter, with another great Zulu run, earning 54thcorner penalty minute. Jean-Ley du Toit’s slap in the face was brilliantly executed by Tarrin Lombard, who reduced the score to 1-2.

With two minutes left, Zulu won another short corner and Lombard put the ball back on target, completing an outstanding comeback.

“We started very slowly and two goals conceded in the first quarter really set us back,” persistent goalkeeper Fumelela Mbande said afterwards.

“We did the right thing by coming back, we knew we would never get out of this, but it took sheer courage and determination,” she added.

“We knew what it meant if we lost, but now we are still in it, which is what we wanted so badly. We will fight Australia even harder.”

South Africa and Japan are one point each in the standings, but Cherry Blossoms are currently in third place. Pool D – the last qualifying place – because they have a goal difference of minus two compared to minus three for South Africa.

South Africa have conceded seven goals and scored four, and if they can somehow prevent the eight against Australia late Wednesday night, they could pass Japan on goal difference.