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 March 2, 2002 | 1710 IST

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Spain held by plucky South Africa

South Africa gained their first point of the 10th men's hockey World Cup on Saturday and delivered a considerable blow to Spain's chances of reaching the semi-finals next week.

A last-minute penalty-corner conversion by Justin King earned the South Africans a 2-2 draw that was well-deserved after an attacking second half display.

In the other morning match in pool A, Germany had to work hard to break down a resolute New Zealand defence and had Christoph Beckman to thank for a winner 10 minutes from time in their 2-1 victory.

South Africa's Craig Fulton (R) shields the ball from Spain's Rodrigo Garza Germany lead the group with 12 points from five games with Spain second on 11, at least until Pakistan and the Netherlands play the day's top match at 2005 local time.

Spain never looked comfortable against the bottom side in the group and coach Toni Forrellat was clearly only half joking afterwards when he said the Spaniards do not like getting up at 0530.

His team needed a pick-me-up but any hopes that Pol Amat's 22nd minute field goal would lift them were dashed a minute later when South Africa equalised through Clyde Abrahams.

Spain went ahead when Eduard Tubau scored his third goal of the tournament from a penalty-corner on the half-time whistle. After that it was all South Africa and their reward came following a string of penalty-corners when King converted with the last touch of the match.

"We always felt Spain was a team we could do something against," said South African coach Rob Pullen. "We were really good value for our draw. We have tried to play attractive hockey throughout the tournament."


While South Africa eye their goal of a top-12 finish in the finals, Spanish coach Forrellat reckons he will need another six points against Pakistan and Argentina to reach the semifinals.

"We never like these early starts and consequently we played badly today," he said, noting that both remaining games would be in the relative cool of the evening.

"We need three points against Pakistan (on Sunday). With less than 16 or 17 points, it is not possible to make the semifinals," said Forrellat.

Germany should have been in complete command before Bjorn Michels scored his fourth goal of the finals from a penalty-corner two minutes from half time.

A 52nd minute penalty-stroke, converted by Hymie Gill, levelled it for New Zealand until Beckman grabbed his second goal of the finals eight minutes later.

"We knew New Zealand would want to play a hard zone defence with all the players behind the halfway line and that made it very hard work for the German team," said coach Bernhard Peters.

"We had good ball movement through their defence but our forwards are not scoring. I think it is a mental thing."

In a full programme of matches on Saturday, the other pool A game features Belgium against Argentina. In pool B, Japan play leaders Australia, second-placed South Korea meet Poland, Cuba face India and third-placed England meet Malaysia.

The top two from the two groups go into the semi-finals on March 7.

The final is scheduled for March 9 at Malaysia's 18,000-seat National Hockey stadium.

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