CAPE TOWN – South Africa squandered a three-goal lead to eventually lose 5-3 to the Netherlands in a pulsating Olympic Men’s Pool B encounter on Sunday.
Garreth Ewing’s team flew out the blocks with teenage prodigy Mustapha Cassiem opening the scoring after just two minutes when the 18-year-old shot past Dutch goalkeeper Pirmin Blaak. Not to be outdone by his younger brother, Dayaan Cassiem gave South Africa a two-goal advantage shortly afterwards when he fired home from close range.
Tevin Bok, though, sent his team into seventh heaven when he blasted a shot into the roof of the net that gave Blaak no chance in the Netherlands goal to put South Africa 3-0 ahead.
But that was unfortunately as good as it got for the African champions with the Netherlands awaking from their slumber after the third goal. Striker Mirco Pruijser provided the inspiration for the Dutch fight back with a brilliant backhand stick shot that snuck past South African goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse’s right shoulder.
It was, however, once again South Africa’s lack of discipline that allowed the opposition to claw their way further into the contest with Matthew Guise-Brown yellow carded shortly before the end of the second quarter. South Africa had conceded three yellow cards in their opening 3-1 defeat to Great Britain.
With the influential Brown off the field, the Netherlands were able to take control of the possession and the Europeans made the numerical advantage count when Thijs van Dam scored on the stroke of half-time.
South Africa were clearly rattled by the Dutch onslaught and conceded a third goal shortly after halftime when Thierry Brinkman levelled up the game at 3-3, making amends for Jeroen Hertzberger's earlier missed penalty flick.
To the South Africans’ credit they attempted to get the attack-minded Cassiem brothers more involved in the game a bit more at this stage, and this is when Dayaan will rue missing a golden chance to put his team 4-3 ahead.
With the goal at his mercy after already brilliantly selling Blaak a dummy, Dayaan pushed his shot against the outside of the post and the chance went begging.
The Dutch were not to offer the South Africans another opportunity after Mink van der Weerden took over the penalty flick duties and Pruijser doubled his tally to close out the game.
South Africa’s next match is against Belgium on Tuesday.