A Dayaan Cassiem masterclass leads South Africa to victory over Ireland in the thrilling final of the inaugural FIH Hockey Men’s Nations Cup South Africa 2022, securing qualification into the FIH Hockey Pro League 2023/24 season for the hosts.
The packed crowd in Potchefstroom was treated to an end-to-end display of attacking hockey in a closely fought match that ended in a 4-3 win in favor of South Africa. The attacking stars from both teams showed up in the big finals with Dayaan Cassiem and Shane O’Donoghue scoring twice, while Tevin Kok, Mustaphaa Cassiem and John McKee also getting on the scorecard. Dayaan Cassiem was especially brilliant, scoring two fantastic goals for the hosts in the first half before winning the penalty stroke, scored by younger brother Mustaphaa, that gave South Africa the win in the final quarter.
Ireland piled the pressure on the South African goal in search of a late equalizer, but the experienced heads of Jethro Eustice, Keenan Horne and goalkeeper Hendrik Kriek kept the Irish at bay and sealed a historic win for South Africa in front of a raucous home crowd.
Earlier in the day Korea got the better of Malaysia in the all-Asian affair in the bronze medal match. Korea were dominant from start to finish, not allowing Malaysia any opportunity to get in the game, scoring twice in the first half and twice again in the second. Jonghyun Jang continued his purple streak from the penalty corners, scoring his 7th goal of the campaign to finish as the top scorer of the tournament.
France finished their campaign in the 5th place, edging Japan in the shoot-outs after a closely contested match where France scored two first quarter goals, but Japan came back to level the scores and had great chances in the dying moments of the final quarter to claim a win. French captain Victor Charlet scored two penalty strokes in the shoot-out and French keeper Arthur Thieffry saved two Japanese shoot-out attempts to seal the win for the European team.
In the 7th place playoff Canada and Pakistan played a 9-goal thriller, that swung multiple times and was finally settled through a 58th minute goal by Usama Bashir to earn Pakistan their first win in the tournament.
7th Place Match: Canada vs Pakistan 4-5
Pakistan started the 7th place playoff game on the attack, scoring two goals inside the first 6 minutes of the game. Canada didn’t let Pakistan run away with the game, and found two goals of their own to end the first half on level terms. Both teams scored a goal each from penalty corners and open play.
The second half continued to follow a back and forth pattern. Pakistan struck first in the 4th quarter after a scoreless 3rd, but Canada answered back within a minute. Canada then took the lead for the first time in the game with 6 minutes left, through a second Sean Murray goal, from a penalty corner. Pakistan responded instantly as a brilliant move from the right by Abdul Rana split the defense and allowed him to lift the ball over the keeper, into the net. Pakistan carried the momentum into the final minutes and a brilliant counter attacking move resulted in a goal scored by a diving Usama Bashir, to give Pakistan the lead with 3 minutes left to play that they carried to the end.
Usama Bashir, the winning goal scorer for Pakistan, was awarded the player of the match and said: “It came a bit late but as the tournament went on we started implementing the plan that coach Aikman had devised for us. That is what has got us the win today and we will improve further in the future.”
5th Place Match: France vs Japan 2-2 (Shoot-out: 4-2)
The French resurgence at the FIH Hockey Men’s Nations Cup continued as they finished their campaign on a high with a shoot-out win against Japan to claim the 5th position. Japan finish in the 6th place at the end of a good campaign that could’ve ended very differently had a few key moments gone their way.
France were quicker off the block and threatened to run away with the game, scoring twice in the first quarter. Captain Victor Charlet added the 5th goal of his campaign from a thundering penalty corner and Timothée Clément scored his first goal, diving across the goal to deflect a cross sent in by Gaspard Xavier.
Japan brushed off the first quarter and showed improved performance in the final three quarters to end the regulation time tied at 2 goals apiece. Kentaro Fukuda got the first goal for Japan and Ken Nagayoshi added a second from a penalty corner.
France were perfect from the shoot-out, scoring from their 4 attempts, of which two were awarded as penalty strokes, which captain Victor Charlet dispatched with incredible ease. Arthur Thieffry, playing in his 100th game for France made 2 great saves on the 3rd and 4th Japanese attempts, with the second save winning the game for France.
Corentin Sellier was awarded the player of the match, and speaking of his team’s overall campaign said: “We had a slow start to the tournament with a few members of our team carrying injuries, so we could not make the semi-finals. But it is good to show what we can do at full strength and finish at the best possible position outside of the top 4 spots.”
Bronze medal match: Malaysia vs Korea 0-4
The Bronze medal match set-up a replay of the opening day match between Korea and Malaysia, where Korea had edged Malaysia in a narrow 1-0 win. While Korea once again emerged victors in the repeat contest, the margin between the two teams was much wider this time, thanks to the offensive masterclass the Korean attack put in.
After a goalless first quarter, Korea added two goals that gave them a lead they fully deserved. Seo Inwoo scored the opener before captain Namyong Lee doubled the lead with a great deflection at the back post. If Malaysia were looking for a reset at the interval, they did not get one. It was all Korea again in the 2nd half and they further added to their lead from a 39th minute penalty corner. The Malaysian rushers went straight for Jonghyun Jang, the top scorer at the Nations Cup, but Korea went for a variation with Jang passing it off to Jeon, and his pass to the far post was deflected in by Taeil Hwang. Jang still managed to get his 7th goal of the tournament though, with Korea winning a penalty corner in the 59th minute that Jang dispatched into the bottom left corner of the goal putting a cherry on top of the Korean win.
Korea keeper Jaehan Kim was awarded the player of the match. Korea captain Namyong Lee, who scored his 49th goal for Korea today, discussing his team’s performance, said: “We promised to give it our all today and we did that. We changed some things from the last game and got the win and more importantly we overtake Malaysia in the world rankings with this win, so that was really important for us as well.”
Gold medal match: Ireland vs South Africa 3-4
South African coach Cheslyn Gie said before the game that his team had a few tricks left up their sleeve that they would be playing in the finals and his team delivered on his promise almost instantly. South Africa came flying out of the gate, and blitzed the Irish defense that had proven itself to be the best in the tournament. It was captain fantastic Dayaan Cassiem who scored the opening goal inside 4 minutes with a fantastic solo run and hit. The ever reliable Shane O’Dnoghue pulled Ireland back level in the 19th minute through a penalty corner, but Cassiem wasn’t done, giving South Africa the lead right at the end of the first half with another rollicking shot from the edge of the circle.
South Africa started the second half strongly once again, and doubled their lead in the opening minute through a piece of individual brilliance by Tevin Kok who found the ball in a crowded space inside the circle, but calmly tapped it up, on to his stick, and lifted it over the keeper to double South Africa’s lead. South Africa could have sealed the win with another goal, but it was the Irish who scored the next goal of the game, with Shane O’Donoghue scoring his 5th goal of the campaign.
John McKee then brought Ireland level with a goal right at the stroke of the 3rd quarter buzzer, that took a deflection off Keenan Horne’s stick and sailed over the head of Kriek who was left stranded by the deflection.
With 15 minutes left for both teams to look for a winner, Ireland committed too many players forward and an errant back pass was intercepted by the sharp Dayaan Cassiem who charged at the Irish goal with just the keeper to beat, but was brought down by O’Donoghue, resulting in a penalty stroke.
It was Dayaan’s younger brother, Mustaphaa Cassiem who stepped up to take the penalty stroke and calmly slotted the ball past David Fitzgerald to get the lead back for South Africa.
Ireland threw everything they had in search of an equalizer, but South Africa’s defense, led by veteran Jethro Eustice and keeper Hendrik Kriek pulled off brilliant blocks and saves to hold on to the lead and secure a famous victory and qualification to the FIH Hockey Pro League 2023-24 for South Africa.
Captain Dayaan Cassiem was extremely emotional after the huge win as he received the player of the match award and said: “I am extremely emotional as you can see. This is a huge win for us, giving us the opportunity to qualify for the Pro League. I am so thankful to the fans who came out in such huge numbers to support us. It’s great for South African hockey to get the support of so many fans and all I can say is, if you keep supporting us like this it will inspire us to even greater heights in the future, so thank you to all the fans.”
FIH Hockey Men’s Nations Cup South Africa 2022
Best Player: Dayaan Cassiem (RSA)
Best Junior Player: Corentin Sellier (FRA)
Best Goalkeeper: Kim Jaehyeon (KOR)
Hero Top Scorer: Jang Jonghyun (KOR)
4 December 2022 Results
Result: Match 1
Canada 4-5 Pakistan
Player of the Game: Usama Bashir (PAK)
Umpires: Aziz Adimah (GHA), Ayden Shrives (RSA), Hideki Kinoshita (JPN-reserve), Tim Meissner (GER-video)
Result: Match 2
France 2-2 Japan (shoot-out: 4-2)
Player of the Game: Corentin Sellier (FRA)
Umpires: Zeke Newman (AUS), Benjamin Peters (USA), Nazmi Kamaruddin (MAS-reserve), Aziz Adimah (GHA-video)
Result: Match 3
Malaysia 0-4 Korea
Player of the Game: Jaehan Kim (KOR)
Umpires: Hideki Kinoshita (JPN), Bevan Nichol (NZL), Tim Meissner (GER-reserve), Ayden Shrives (RSA-video)
Result: Match 4
Ireland 3-4 South Africa
Player of the Game: Dayaan Cassiem (RSA)
Umpires: Gabriel Labate (ARG), Sébastien Michielsen (BEL), Nazmi Kamaruddin (MAS-reserve), Benjamin Peters (USA-video)