Potchefstroom was the destination as for the final time of 2021-2022 FIH Pro League France took to the field in South Africa. The French had enjoyed a fairly successful trip to the African Champions as their victory against India had propelled them into the top 10 of the World Rankings. For the South Africans, who celebrated Dayaan Cassiem’s 50th test cap, it was an opportunity to show the lessons learnt so far in an incredibly tough tournament.

South African started very brightly and created a couple of early circle penetrations with the front three looking feisty early on. But despite the early in-roads it was the French who had the best early opportunity and from it won the opening penalty corner. The drag-flick from a slipping Charlet was easily kept out to the relief of the hosts.

South Africa then had a counterattack superbly led by Bili Ntuli, but the final pass was just too heavy for Keenan Horne and rather unconvincingly Thieffry cleared his lines. South Africa were the first to break the deadlock and it was a belter. Sihle Ngubane received the ball out wide, he fed Mustapha Cassiem and the 2021 FIH Rising Star nominee made his own space before finishing superbly.

His brother then forced Thieffry into a save as he created space and fired a tomahawk in. It remained 1-0 to the South Africans. France used their referral to win a penalty corner shortly after, but the deflection variation was wide of the post, a timely reminder of the dangers the French possess. France created a half chance that squired across the goal before firing over the top as the quarter headed to completion.

An early second quarter penalty corner for France was superbly charged down by Keenan Horne, but France was able to pull level shortly thereafter when an opportunistic poke from a deflected ball saw Blaise Rogeau restore parity for the Europeans. South Africa missed a golden opportunity to re-take the lead when a wonderful run from Mustapha Cassiem set up Pautz, but the striker fired it agonisingly wide. A brilliant dive from Keenan Horne got on to the end of a Mustapha Cassiem cross but Thieffry had closed the space to make it a regulation save.

A fiercely competitive first half had finished 1-1 with both teams left feeling they could and possibly should have put a second goal in.

The first major opportunity in the second half came to the French but a superb diving save by Gowan Jones kept them at bay as Tynevez could not complete the move. A massive decision was then given as France were awarded a penalty stroke. Charlet the French Skipper made no mistake as he smashed it home to give the French the lead for the First time in the game.

South Africa should have pulled level when Dayaan Cassiem was sent through on goal but his one on one was saved and edged narrowly wide. The South Africans then kept another penalty corner at bay as they rode out a five-minute yellow card. The quarter ended 2-1 with the game on a knife’s edge heading into the final quarter.

Early in the final quarter both defensive units leading the match and denying opportunities, but South Africa fashioned a great opportunity for Bili Ntuli that was smothered by Thieffry to the disdain of the ball boys and ball girls.

France won another penalty corner with 7 minutes remaining, but they failed to control and were lucky to win a re-award. And then another. It was third time lucky for the South African defenders who cleared well and kept the game tight. South Africa then won their first PC, but it was brilliantly charged down by the French defence. 3 minutes remained.

Despite a remarkable effort from the South Africans, it wasn’t to be and the French managed to hold on for a victory. The South Africans had clearly shown they are learning the big lessons in this series and closing the gap, but it was ultimately disappointment for the men in Green and Gold on the night.

South Africa and Germany met for their first ever FIH Pro League encounter at North West University on Thursday night. Of course the fixture would always bring back reminders to the epic tussle at the Tokyo Olympic Games, but in truth both teams had huge changes and that encounter should not give any sort of guideline to this game.

In arguably the best opening quarter of the FIH Pro League so far, South Africa competed superbly and created a number of circle penetrations, while also stopping the dangerous German penetrations in an evenly matched opening quarter.

The hard work was undone early in the second half when Germany were awarded a penalty corner, their first of the night, and Luis Gill smashed it home superbly to give the Germans the lead. To their credit the hosts continued to fight and create a lot of dangerous possession without really testing Niklas Garst on his international debut. However when Garst was called on with just two minutes after a Dayaan Cassiem moment of magic, he pulled a superb save. However the South Africans managed to turn that possession and momentum into a goal when skipper Keenan Horne reacted brilliantly and finished off the top post and side bar. Germany then had a late penalty corner in the half but were unable to convert after a good first wave run. 1-1 was the score at the break.

Germany would run into the distance though in the third quarter scoring three unanswered goals. First from a deflected penalty corner variation and then from two almost identical field goals from the left which were tapped home. It was a disappointing quarter for the South Africans who had competed so well to get back into the game.

The South Africans appeared to have run out of steam and the Germans were taking the opportunities as they presented themselves. Both Niklas Wellen and Timm Herzbruch managed to get themselves on the scoresheet to add gloss to a second half domination. A late penalty corner chance went astray. It turned out to be a deserving victory for the Germans on the back of a wonderful second half display. For the South Africans they will look at the first half and try to find away to package it for a full 60 minutes.

For South Africa there are two games remaining in their home leg of their first ever FIH Pro League as they play France and Germany one more time.

France and South Africa lined up tonight to take each other on for the first time in the FIH Pro League in Potchefstroom on the back of very different opening week experiences in the tournament. The French had the momentous victory against India spurring them on while the South Africans were still looking for their first in the prestigious tournament. It was also the first meeting between the two sides since they met in November 2018 at Wits University in a four-match series that the French won 3-0.

France played their hand first winning a penalty corner after a successful review, but Gowan Jones kept Victor Charlet at bay. It wouldn’t take long for France to take the lead though and South Africa really should have done better to clear the ball that was bundled home. South Africa thought they had pulled level a few minutes later when brilliant work by Bili Ntuli set himself up and his reverse stick shot came cannoning back off the upright.

South Africa were immediately punished when seconds after a green card they conceded a second penalty corner. But Keenan Horne charged it down superbly to keep the difference down at 1. France was then awarded a green card, but they caught the South Africans napping and a superb diving deflection by Goyet set up an empty net finish for Rogeau.

Early in the second quarter South Africa were thankful for a wonderful save from Estiaan Kriek after an error gave the French a chance, they would have been optimistic about burying. South Africa produced a good passage of play that earned a penalty corner, but the deflected strike was brilliantly saved by Thieffry. As the tempers continued to raise, Kriek made a good double save at a penalty corner before Mustapha Cassiem wasted an opportunity to pull one goal back after a fine break.

South Africa and France were fairly even in making opportunities, but the French defensive unit was equipping themselves better in dousing any possible fire as the clock wound down to half-time. And that would ultimately be the story of the second quarter as the half-time break sounded with the French leading 2-0.

South Africa had the first big opportunity in the second half. Dayaan Cassiem made a wonderful run and fired over the top. A second opportunity arose shortly after, but it again wasn’t converted. South Africa were looking more intense at the start of the second half, but they knew from the match against India that they had to make the period of domination count and it just wasn’t clicking for the South Africans. And as they did against India they were made to pay as a defensive deflection ahead of Gowan Jones gave him zero chance and the French a 3-0 lead. It could have been rubbed in further but once again Keenan Horne was sublime in his running lines to deny the French penalty corner unit. Thieffry was then called into action from a Dayaan Cassiem shot, but in truth it was not the toughest save he would have to make. 3-0 at the end of the third quarter.

South Africa had given a far better account of themselves in this game, but too many moments of opportunity were turned down. The kind of lessons that will need to be learnt quickly as the tournament progresses throughout the year. And they were punished once again for failing to take the opportunities as another poor defensive touch left the goalkeeper with no chance and Clement finished easily.

South Africa should have scored late on as Dayaan Cassiem was sent through by his brother, but his scooped finish hit the crossbar. He would make amends shortly after as the same combination was finished this time, 4-1.

The goal would ultimately be a consolation as the South Africans were made to pay for a slow start. The two teams meet again on Sunday night in their return fixture.

The South Africans and Indians met today in Potchefstroom in their “return” fixture of the FIH Pro League. Following their 10-2 defeat in the first leg the South Africans were desperate to put up an improved performance against an India side smarting from their own defeat against France yesterday.

South Africa would historically be captained by Bili Ntuli tonight for the first time, the first Black African man to captain the South African side. And it was a delightful start for the South Africans who took the lead when their energy and intensity was rewarded with a penalty corner put away superbly by Dan Bell, his second FIH Pro league goal.

The largest lessons that the South Africans have learnt in the opening week of the FIH Pro League is the importance of execution. And despite not being as impressive in the opening quarter the Indians levelled before the break. The South Africans had showed a far better start than in the opening encounter between the two nations.

The second quarter saw South Africa compete gainfully and really looked to take the take the game to the Indians. But their inexperience at this level showed in an important moment as India were able to capitalise with two quick goals that may very well have taken the wind out of the South African sail just before the half time break.

But in truth it almost appeared to put wind into the hosts sail as the 10 minutes into the second half produced the most scintillating attacking play from South Africa. The hosts however were unable to make the period of domination count, missing a penalty stroke for the second time in two days, striking the crossbar and failing to make a number of shots and circle entries count.

But it was the Indians who broke the South African resolve when a contestable penalty corner was given and converted superbly. The Indians would add another before the end of the third quarter and the South Africans were frustrated at their inability to convert pressure and being caught out on the other end.

Despite Connor Beauchamp getting his debut goal in the final quarter it was all India and the South Africans were poor in the final quarter. The coaching team will be bitterly disappointed after a much better display they showed such a poor performance in the final quarter to be completely moved aside.

Incredibly at the end of the game the South Africans had outshot the Indians but the experienced visitors were the superior team in terms of execution. The hosts had a number of chances to change the destiny of the game but the fine margins at the top level are incredibly tight.

For India it ends the tour on a high, after a shock defeat to France last night. For the South Africans there is not much time to lick the wounds, as they take on the buoyed French on Tuesday night.

South Africa and Netherlands faced off for the second time in Potchefstroom for the FIH Pro League on Saturday Night. South Africa had been heavily defeated in the opening meeting between the two sides earlier in the week and were desperate to give a better account of themselves this time round.

A feisty first quarter ensued with the teams competing with his other manfully and several tackles going in that were likely to be felt tomorrow morning. Despite both sides battling for supremacy in the middle of the park there were limited goal mouth opportunities. Unfortunately for the South Africans they were undone with a second left of the opening quarter as miscommunication from a cross field overhead saw Dan Bell take the ball away from Estiaan Kriek and Thijs van Dam would make no mistake of the gift.

Netherlands would add their second of the night halfway through the second quarter as Thierry Brinkman, the Dutch Skipper, made a wonderful leading run and deflected superbly past Gowan Jones. The Dutch were starting to dominate the possession as the half progressed, but the South Africans were keeping them at bay. And their determination was superbly rewarded as Le-Neal Jackson pulled one goal back through a superb drag flick from the South Africans penalty corner.

South Africa were awarded a golden opportunity to pull level when Mustapha Cassiem was taken out and a penalty stroke was awarded, but the opportunity was missed as Nic Spooner found the cross bar, much to the European delight. The sucker punch would follow shortly afterwards as with a minute remaining in the half the Dutch found space out right and the cross was easily put home by Dennis Wamerdam to give the team a 3-1 lead at the half-time break.

South Africa created the first meaningful chance of the second half with a superb counter led by Dayaan Cassiem and Bili Ntuli, but the wonderful build up lacked the end product, and the opportunity went astray. Kriek was then called on to make a good save shortly after from a reverse stick shot before a wonderful deflection again was sent narrowly wide. South Africa had another opportunity on the breakthrough the younger Cassiem but again the end product was lacking. South Africa were far more competitive in this game, but the Dutch threat was consistently looming and was rewarded when the South African defence failed to clear the lines much to the delight of Warmerdam again.

Netherlands struck for the fifth time in the game and the first of the final quarter with their first penalty corner since the first quarter. Tim Swaen the goalscorer. It should have been six shortly after but Terrance Pieters hit the upright after being put through one-on—one with Gowan Jones. Another South African half-chance was missed shortly afterwards which led to the Dutch punishing some scrappy defending from the South Africans. 6-1 the score.

Although it came with just 8 seconds left it was the South Africans who would have the last laugh of the game as a shot by Dayaan Cassiem was saved and Matt De Sousa reacted to the rebound with a superb drive into the bottom left corner. 6-2 the final score.

The South Africans are on a steep learning curve in the FIH Pro League, but the evidence tonight showed that they are willing students of the game.  

 

South Africa and India met for their first encounter of the 2021-22 FIH Pro League in Potchefstroom today. It was the first encounter between the sides since India’s 5-1 win in the FIH Hockey Series Final in Bhubaneswar in 2019. The Indians were hot favourites on the back of their Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo and a convincing display against France yesterday, while the South Africans were desperate to show more steel in their second taste of the FIH Pro League.

The South African team started the game with a combined 796 test caps, while Indias total was 1758, and with Taine Paton not playing the South Africans featured only one centurion to the seven of the Indians. It promised to be an uphill battle.

If South Africa were hoping for a peaceful start to the encounter they would be bitterly disappointed as the Indians came out roaring and determined to show their pedigree. They did exactly that converting three of their six penalty corners in the opening quarter to storm into a comfortable lead. If the South Africans needed a reminder of the quality of hockey at the top  of world hockey, they were being given it. Having looked like they had calmed the storm, a South African mistake was ruthlessly punished and the Indians led 4-0.

South Africa had a massive opportunity to pull a goal back in the second quarter after great work by Richard Pautz, but skipper Keenan Horne fired it narrowly wide. As the hosts have already learnt in their brief stay in the Pro League, opportunities missed can very often punished. Shortly afterwards the visitors had a penalty corner which left Nolutshungu no chance in the goal. The Indians then added a sixth and seventh as they feasted on any mistake by the South Africans.  A superb interchange by India added the 8th before the half-time break.

South Africa were awarded their first penalty corner in the second half and had two bites at the cherry. Both were unfortunately denied by the Indian Keeper and the wind was taken out of the South African sail as the Indians surged up the other end and got their 9th goal of the night. Another penalty corner went astray for the South Africans, but this time the immediate attack from the Indians was denied.

South Africa finally did get their breakthrough with a Dan Bell penalty corner. They then gave the South African fans watching across the globe a moment of cheer as they raised the tempo and Richard Pautz was on hand to finish superbly. Although India would get one more with a brilliant tomahawk it was a far better second half performance by the South Africans that will at least instil a measure of belief in the team ahead of their next encounters.

Next up the team take on the Netherlands on Saturday so they will take the opportunity to rest the bodies ahead of that challenge

 

South Africa started their historic adventure at the FIH Pro league tonight at the North West University in Potchefstroom against a Dutch side they have not beaten in over 20 years. It was a welcome sight for South African fans across the globe as the Men formed part of the esteemed and highly pedigreed FIH Pro League for the first time.

South Africa, missing several players including captain Tim Drummond and short corner hot shot Matt Guise-Brown due to work commitments, were also without the like of Sam Mvimbi and Tevin Kok who are recovering from injury. It was however an opportunity for the South Africans to give a debut to Connor Beauchamp and Clayton Saker. A moment they will never forget.

If they were hoping for a red-carpet welcome to the Pro League, they would be disappointed as the Dutch in the changed strip of blue started with their foot on the pedal and held a significant advantage in the possession stakes in the opening exchanges. The early domination from the visitors, and the pace at which they operated at was rewarded with a penalty stroke as shot struck Tyson Dlungwana on the line. Although Siya Nolutshungu went the right way it was a superbly executed stroke by Tim Swaen to give the Dutch a 1 goal lead.

It could very well have been two when Netherlands earned their first penalty corner and Jip Jannsen ripped the ball into the post and the rebound was fired wide. The South Africans fashioned half a chance through Dayaan Cassiem, but the score remained 1-0 at the break.

In the second quarter South Africa started to gain a little bit more of the ball and the possession was a bit more evenly contested and despite Netherlands having two early penalty corners it was South Africa that pulled level. Great work down the side from Mustapha Cassiem saw a ball fired across and national vice-captain Bili Ntuli finished superbly.

It was Netherlands who landed the next punch with a sublime piece of control on the baseline from Koen Bijen which was crossed to Van Damme who finished past Estiaan Kriek superbly. It was a quick-fire double for the Dutch as Derck de Vilder hit a powerful tomahawk strike that left Kriek with little chance. The Dutch were delighted to have stolen into a two-goal lead.

South Africa won their first penalty corner of the game late into the second quarter but the low drag flick from Dan Bell was superbly saved by Pirmin Blaak and the Dutch took advantage of this by tearing up the other end and winning their own PC which was superbly finished off the rebound by van Dam. 4-1 the half-time score.

The second half started in fantastic fashion for the Dutch who netted their fifth inside fifteen seconds through Jorrit Croon. For many of the young South Africans there were lessons being taught by the superb Dutch side.

South Africa thought they would pull one back, but Blaak was again on hand to deny Mustapha Cassiem, with Siya Nolutshungu joining Blaak in the fine saves club just seconds later. The Dutch were controlling possession with the pedigree so often associated with them, while South Africa were missing a couple of half chances to establish a foot hold back into the game. It remained 5-1 wat the end of the third quarter.

South Africa started the final quarter exactly as they started the third. Conceding in the opening 15 seconds, when Dan Bell took down the attacker and Janssen stepped up to finish from the stroke with a venomous strike. It got worse for the South Africans as the Dutch added a 7th through Swaen with a penalty corner strike through Estiaan Kriek.

The Netherlands were consistent in ramping home their advantage and put the foot on the pedal in adding an eighth through Koen Bijn and a 9th through Brinkmann with time still remaining. Enough time to be awarded a third penalty stroke of the night, but this time Kriek made a superb save to deny the visitors.

They would however find the 10th goal with an absolutely sublime finish Timjen Reyenga, his first for his country. The lesson was getting even harder for the hosts as half chances were quickly extinguished and replaced by goals on the other end. It was an all round dominant display for the Dutch who added the cherry to the top with another late goal from Janssen.

It was a strong reminder that South Africa have a long way to close the gap on the top nations in the world and the team will definitely be looking to improve over the course of the two weeks. On thing was for certain, the FIH Pro League is for the Elite and its where we aspire to be.  

FIH Pro League Result – 8 February 2022

South Africa 1 (Ntuli 20’)
Netherlands 11 (Swaen 7’, Brinkman 26’, de Vilder 27’, van Dam 30’, Croon 31’,  Janssen 46’, Swaen 47’, Biejn 49’, Brinkmann 51’, Reyenga 54’ & Janssen 57’ )

South Africa begin their inaugural stint in the FIH Pro League this week as they play host to Netherlands, India, Germany and France at Potchefstroom University. The South Africans were invited to compete in the 2021-22 edition of the tournament as a result of the withdrawal of Australia and New Zealand. Its an opportunity they are looking to grab with both hands.

The South Africans will open their campaign on Tuesday night against Netherlands, a team they have not beaten in over 20 years but will be buoyed by the performance in Tokyo when they stormed into a 3-goal-lead before the impressive Europeans bounced back. They will then face the Olympic bronze medallist India, who have South African legend Greg Clarke as their assistant coach.

The South Africans will be without captain Tim Drummond and penalty corner hotshot Matt Guise-Brown who could not get leave from work, while the Cassiem brothers and Ryan Julius return to the team after missing the African Hockey Cup of Nations.

Speaking to Citizen Newspaper sport Journalist Ken Borland, head coach Garreth Ewing was excited by the opportunity

“It’s an amazing opportunity. It will be incredibly tough, but we’ve got to play against the very best in the world if we are going to find out what we need to grow as a team,” Ewing said.

“You’re never going to play against teams in the top eight of the rankings without them being strong outfits, but teams in the Pro League do mix up their line-ups a bit.

“It’s often used an opportunity to expose new players because it’s considered the beginning of the next Olympic cycle – and that’s the same as what I’m doing – but the top sides will have their usual superstars here as well.”

Although the matches will not be open for spectators, all games will be televised live on Supersport.

SA Mens Squad – FIH Pro League – Potchefstroom Leg

Player

Caps

Player

Caps

Siya Nolutshungu

32

Peabo Lembethe

42

Gowan Jones

52

Owen Mvimbi

53

Estiaan Kriek

5

Matt De Sousa

15

Daniel Bell

63

Matthew Brown

13

Jethro Eustice

137

Sihle Ngubane

4

Tyson Dlungwana

54

Ryan Julius

45

Connor Beauchamp

0

Keenan Horne

73

Le-Neal Jackson

12

Ignatius Malgraff

71

Clayton Saker

0

Bili Ntuli

67

Taine Paton

124

Dayaan Cassiem

43

Nic Spooner

35

Mustapha Cassiem

13

Richard Pautz

35

Bradley Sherwood

4

 

The 8 December 2021 was a day of celebration for the South African hockey community with the Executive Board (EB) of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) approving the participation of South Africa in the third edition of the Men’s FIH Hockey Pro League. Their first match will be against the Netherlands on 8 February 2022.

Whilst the national team’s participation is temporary and limited to this edition only, South African mens coach Garreth Ewing said the excitement ahead of the Pro League is real;

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to play, under pressure and against some excellent teams – the likes of Netherlands, India and Germany. Team morale is high post our AFCON win: The guys played well and we did what we needed to even though it was extremely stressful and demanding. We now have one or two days rest and then we’ll be fully back into it early next week.”

LOC Chairman Sheldon Rostron said that he’s been focused largely on the operational elements and event execution.

“A significant amount of planning has taken place between SAHA CEO Marissa Langeni as well as the FIH. Thankfully many items are already in place thanks to the preparation for the FIH Junior Women’s Hockey World Cup which will take place at the same venue from 2 – 13 April. This is an incredible opportunity to deliver another world class event, showcasing our abilities to a global audience, with the timing being spot on as our country and world have been starved of sport these last two years. The South African teams are  also coming off the back of both Men and Women's teams qualifying for the FIH Hockey World Cup – and a tournament such as this one simply boosts the program and preparation of the Men's team: Our team from Tokyo will grow, be tested and gain experience.”

When asked how he thinks teams may perform in the tournament, Rostron says it’s been a quick start off the back of a difficult end to 2021;

“However, in saying that, the Pro League is known for quality hockey, exposure to new players and is a platform where experimentation is embraced. We have seen young players emerging; teams challenging the best and of course many a moment where coaches are testing and probing in order to unearth their edge. It’s a super tournament to watch as teams battle it out for title glory and improvement of world rankings. Personally, I think it may be a challenge for our team to balance all the elements that affect both local and international environments but it will be a great platform for our depth to be tested and gives us good insight into the future. The SA team is perhaps not as well prepared as other teams would be for the event: But it’s important that people understand that their focus is different to that of the higher ranked teams. This is a once off opportunity for South Africa to partake and I think the team will use it to gain as much knowledge as they can about themselves and their opponents. In saying this though, I in no way mean to downplay the teams ability, determination and talent: It has been well documented that teams use this as a springboard and opportunity for growth, and there’s no reason why coach Gareth Ewing cannot do the same, with a deep-rooted focus and hunger to succeed. The SA Mens team will compete, will challenge, will push, will thrive and I have no doubt they will surprise fans throughout the 2022 campaign.”

In conclusion, Rostron urges fans to stay glued to their Supersport screens;

“Back our boys because there is nothing that stops us from making this a memorable event and quantum leaping the SA Mens team and sport into a new direction. The event brings hope in many ways: Propelling hockey forward and is the moment that we have been waiting for.”

Perhaps the most anticipated match of this Pro League edition is SA vs Germany, currently scheduled for 17 February 2022, which will be the first time that the South African mens team faces Germany since beating them 4-3 in the Tokyo 2020 pool phase. Subsequently, that game was voted by the FIH fans as their second best match of 2021.

South Africa and Egypt faced off in the African Cup of Nations for the 6th consecutive time in Accra tonight. Both teams were desperate to secure qualification to the FIH Hockey World Cup, while for the South Africans a victory also offered a confirmed top 10 spot in the World Rankings ahead of the FIH Pro League.

South Africa earned the first shot of the final when Brad Sherwood and Bili Ntuli combined but it was a routine save for Farahat Shehata. Despite some good possession from the Egyptians, it was the South Africans who looked more likely to score and they did exactly that towards the end of the opening quarter. Matt Guise-Brown was given two Penalty corners and the finish on the second left no doubt as it smashed into the side net. It would be the last significant action of the opening quarter as South Africa led 1-0 at the first interval.

South Africa won the first penalty corner of the second quarter two minutes in, when a foot was found in the circle. Shehata made a good save, but the lifted ball created danger and South Africa were awarded a second bite at the cherry. A second bite would become a third bite as a foot was hit in the charge down. But Egypt would survive, and the opportunity was missed.

The South Africans were made to rue those misses as Egypt pulled level with a moment of magic from Ziad Adel who made the perfect run in between Le-Neal Jackson and Gowan Jones and finished it off superbly. With Egypt on the front foot, they won a penalty corner shortly after the equaliser. Tim Drummond on the post showed why he is so highly regarded in that position and denied the Egyptians superbly. The half time break saw the team’s level, 30 minutes remaining to decide the tournament.

South Africa came out blazing and almost caught the Egyptians napping immediately after the break, but good rear-guard scrambling kept the South Africans at bay. Bili Ntuli went on a superb run into the D but his cut back was unable to pick up a team mate, while Egypt failed to collect with a search cross into the circle. The tension could be cut with a spoon!

That tension defined the third quarter somewhat as the two sides played somewhat within themselves for large portions, waiting for the perfect gap while making sure they didn’t let their opposition in. South Africa got the first big opportunity with a penalty corner, but the variation was sent wide as both sides continued to search for the go-ahead goal. Ill discipline from the Egyptians then awarded the South Africans another penalty corner but a bobbled ball meant the chance went astray. There would be no goal in the quarter, and it would be down to a final 15 minutes to decide the champions.

South Africa won their 8th penalty corner at the start of the fourth quarter and a brilliant variation left the Egyptians surprised, but the shot fired narrowly wide, and the Egyptian blushes were spared. Bili Ntuli then produced a moment of magic to create an opportunity but Shehata made a very important save to keep the scores level.

Both sides were upping the tempo looking for a massive goal to go ahead. Both sides had several circle entries but both sides saw their opportunities denied again and again. As the clock headed down to zero, it was down to a penalty shootout to decide the title for the first time since 2005.

In the shootout it was Gowan Jones who starred, saving three of the four penalties to leave young Brad Sherwood with the opportunity to win it for his country, a moment that the Maritzburg College old boy would not turn down. Winner of the match, Champions of the continent and qualified for the FIH Hockey World Cup.

African Hockey Cup of Nations 2022 – Final Standings

  1. South Africa
  2. Egypt
  3. Nigeria
  4. Kenya
  5. Ghana
  6. Uganda
  7. Namibia