It’s never a great feeling to be handed a heavy defeat in the World Cup opener and one would not have been surprised if the mood in the France camp was downbeat after their 0-8 loss to world number one Australia. The Frederic Soyez-coached world number 12 side put that massive defeat behind them and came out with more purpose, determined to set their World Cup campaign on track.
France did the most important thing of seizing the early initiative by drawing first blood in the opening quarter via a short corner conversion by burly drag-flicker and captain Victor Charlet – the early goal pushed world number 14th ranked South Africa on the backfoot but the African side levelled things at the stroke of the first quarter hooter when Connor Beauchamp unleashed a rocket off a penalty corner to trigger hope and celebrations in their camp.
France kept making forays at the South African ‘D’ but they were denied from running away with the game owing to some brave defending by the latter. South African goalkeeper Gowan Jones was a tough to breach and with him under the cage France was left frustrated for most part.
France was well served by the trio of Francois Goyet, Simon-Martin Brisac, and Charles Masson, whose tireless work rate ensured the deep defence of the African side had a busy day on the pitch. The win was a sweet revenge for their 1-2 loss to South Africa in the FIH Nations Cup at Potchefstroom in December.
Boosted by three full points, France can hope to build on this and back themselves to pull off a win over Argentina in their concluding pool tie and seal one of the two quarterfinal spots from Pool A. South Africa are out of contention for a berth in the knockout phase after back-to-back defeats.