Friday, December 1, 2023

FIH Hockey Nations Cup: South Africa seal Pro League spot over Ireland

It took a final quarter penalty stroke to separate Ireland and South Africa in a pulsating FIH Nations Cup final as the hosts delighted the home crowd in Potchefstroom – and the Cassiem brothers once again notching another brilliant storyline in their rising status in hockey.

Ireland had almost double the shots over South Africa but it was left to a Dayaan Cassiem masterclass to see South Africa prevail 4-3, and thus secure the Pro League place on offer. That’s if they hit the FIH requirements to do so.

“I am extremely emotional as you can see,” captain Cassiem. “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.”

Cassiem and Shane O’Donoghue both came to the fore and scored twice, while Tevin Kok, Mustaphaa Cassiem and John McKee also got on the scorecard.

Dayaan netted twice in the first half before winning the penalty stroke, scored by younger brother Mustaphaa, that sealed a first Nations Cup triumph.

With 11 minutes left, Ireland committed too many players forward and an errant back pass was intercepted by the sharp Dayaan with just the keeper to beat. He was brought down by O’Donoghue, resulting in a penalty stroke and Mustaphaa stepped up to slot home.

Korea got the better of Malaysia in the all-Asian affair in the bronze medal match, while France finished their campaign in fifth.

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