EXCLUSIVE: We can still achieve great things in Tokyo, says SA hockey keeper Rassie Pieterse after Germany win
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CAPE TOWN - Goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse has claimed that the SA Hockey team never stopped believing they could "achieve some great things" after surprising Germany 4-3 at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday morning.
The competition has been a chastening experience for the South Africans, particularly after suffering a 9-4 defeat to No 1 ranked Belgium in their last match.
But such is the character and spirit of Garreth Ewing's team that they lifted themselves off the canvas to arguably produce the shock of this Olympics.
The players certainly could not hide their emotions with young star Mustapha Cassiem, who scored the winning goal, breaking down in tears of joy at the final whistle.
"I think you saw after the game that it meant a lot to us, the win over Germany," South Africa's veteran goalkeeper Rassie Pieterse told IOL Sport from the Olympic village in Tokyo.
"We came into the tournament as underdogs, but we know inside this team what this team has. We kept believing and we are still believing that we can achieve some great things here at the Olympics and on the world stage. To get that win today was a great team effort."
Despite South Africa conceding 25 goals in the tournament across their four matches thus far, Pieterse has been one of the outstanding South African players along with the Cassiem brothers Mustapha and Dayaan.
The 37-year-old believes the victory over the Germans was achieved due to South Africa's brilliant attack and defence finally working in unison.
He also remains confident that if results in the other matches in Pool B go the way of South Africans and they beat Canada in their final game on Friday they can still qualify for the quarter-finals in Tokyo.
"We have just been scoring incredible goals at this tournament, but now to get the defensive structure right today was what pulled us through against a giant like Germany," Pieterse said.
We have had some amazing support from back home. It has just been so great. Tomorrow we have our last game against Canada, it is a must-win game for us. It will take us six points and hopefully with a bit of luck we can still progress to the knockout stages."
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