Western Province made it four titles in a row with arguably the most dramatic victory imaginable. A goal from Mustapha Cassiem with two seconds left on the clock sealed the victory for the defending champions in dramatic fashion.
Western Province was looking for a fourth consecutive title while Southern Gauteng returned to the final for the first time in six years. The Cape side were the comfortable favourites while Julian Hykes boys had belief that they could cause a major upset.
Western Province started the final looking more likely and put pressure on the Southern Gauteng back line with Cullin de Jager having to make an instinctive save. Southerns best opportunity came from Marvin Simons early on, but he fired wide to the disappointment of the Southern Gauteng Gwijo Squad in the crowd.
The opening quarter ended with another swash buckling counter from Western Province, but Dayaan Cassiem’s effort was saved by de Jager, and a goalless opening was the case.
Chances were few and far between but a golden one was awarded to the Southern Gauteng men. Aiden Tun was adjudged to have taken JP Britz out and a penalty stroke was awarded. The big moment was given to JP Britz, but his shot was superbly saved by Anton van Loggerenberg and the wait for the first goal continued.
Marvin Simons was pulling the strings and Southern Gauteng was the team on top with chances starting to grow. But the game’s biggest moment came from a defensive effort from Southern Gauteng. Dalpiarro Langford sprinted back superbly and cleared off the line as Western Province broke with a 3 on 1. Remarkably the half time score remained 0-0.
Southern Gauteng had to produce another goal line save early in the second half, this time by Steven Paulo. A tentative and tactical battle produced a few moments of brilliance, including a superb opportunity for Kyle Esau but his shot was fired wide. 10 minutes remaining and the game was still looking for its first goal.
Southern Gauteng won a penalty corner 2 minutes into the final quarter, but Steven Paulo’s shot was charged down superbly by Anton van Loggerenberg. Steven Paulo and Mustapha Cassiem produced an enthralling battle between the two national players that thrilled the crowd immensely.
Idrees Abdulla saw his shot saved by the glove of Cullin de Jager and that touch proved immense as the ball ricocheted off the post and back to safety with just four minutes remaining. Both teams produced excitement as the game stretched over the tightrope including a wonder strike from Mustapha Cassiem that itself bounced back off the post as well.
With 1 second left on the clock though Mustapha Cassiem showed why is the highest rated player in world hockey. He picked up the ball fired it home off the crossbar and into the back of the net to seal the title for Western Province dramatically and incredibly!
Earlier the bronze medal went to the SPAR KZN Raiders who defeated Mpumalanga, KZN Mynahs lost to SG Wits for 5th and Eastern Gauteng beat Northern Blues for 7th.
— SA Hockey (@SA_Hockey) March 4, 2023
Top Goalscorer – Liam Hermanus (Mpumalanga)
Best Young Player – Bongumusa Mngoma (Raiders)
Best Goalkeeper – Cullin de Jager (Southern Gauteng)
Player of the tournament – Mustapha Cassiem (Western Province)