Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Argentina got the better of South Africa in the inaugural match of the FIH Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

Though Argentina were dominant throughout the match, they could score only one goal against lucklustre South Africa. They got as many as six penalty corners but failed to grasp the opportunities. The only field goal was scored by Maico Casella in the 43rd minute. 

South Africa also created three penalty corner opportunities, but they failed to convert those opportunities against a resoluted defence of the opposition.

The first quarter ended goalless despite a keenly contested affair. Both the teams created few chances. However, they failed to capitalise on those. 

At the start of the second quarter, Argentina were at their aggressive best. They got two penalty corners in the 18th minute. However, they failed to convert both of those chances. They continued with their attacking instinct and got their third penalty corner in the next minute. South Africa goal keeper Gowan Jones stood like a rock once again to thwart the chance. The first half ended goalless despite dominating display by Junior Hockey World Cup Champions Argentina.

In the second half also, Argentina made their intentions quite clear by continuing with their momentum. They got their fourth penalty corner in the 34th minute. Jones again stood like the rock of Gibraltar to deny them the goal opportunity.

Finally, South Africa showed some resilience and they got their first penalty corner chance five minutes later. But the defenders of Argentina rose to the occasion to prevent any kind of damage. Argentina took the attack from the opposition and renewed their surge. Maico Casella opened the account for them in the 43rd minute with a brilliant strike from the left flank. 

They got another opportunity in form of their fourth penalty corner in the 44th minute but lost the opportunity. The third quarter ended 1-0 in Argentina's favour.

At the start of the fourth and final quarter, South Africa tried their best to come back into the match and earned back-to-back penalty corners in the 51st minute but found themselves helpless against a resolute defence of Argentina.

Argentina fought their way back again and earned two penalty corners in the 54th minute, but failed to convert on both occassions. Two minutes later South Africa had their chances again in form of their third penalty corner, but it was in vain. The fourth quarter ended goalless, but, Argentina sealed the fate of the match with the solitary goal.