A Dayaan Cassiem masterclass led hosts South Africa to victory over Ireland in the thrilling final of the inaugural FIH Hockey Men’s Nations Cup 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.

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.

Captain Dayaan Cassiem was extremely emotional after the huge win as he received the player of the match award and said: “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

Individual Awards

Best Player: Dayaan Cassiem (RSA)

Best Junior Player: Corentin Sellier (FRA)

Best Goalkeeper: Kim Jaehyeon (KOR)

Top Scorer: Jang Jonghyun (KOR)