WATCH: Mustaphaa Cassiem helps SA Men sink Czech Republic in first win at Indoor Hockey World Cup

Mustaphaa Cassiem was in fine form for the SA Men against the Czech Republic. Photo: Supplied

Mustaphaa Cassiem was in fine form for the SA Men against the Czech Republic. Photo: Supplied

Published Feb 7, 2023


Tshwane - Mustaphaa Cassiem lit up the Heartfelt Arena on the second day of the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup on Monday as he blasted home five goals to sink the highly rated Czech Republic 8-4.

He helped the South African Men’s hockey team to their first win of the tournament following an opening draw with Australia.

The victory completed a memorable night for home side after the women’s team had shown tremendous courage in holding the formidable Netherlands outfit, the second-best side in the world, to a 3-1 defeat.

The men’s team looked in a spot of bother when Czech Republic made a lightning start, shooting to a 3-1 lead in the first quarter.

But it was, said Cassiem, a matter of keeping calm and backing their gameplan.

And despite his personal contribution, he was quick to pay tribute to his teammates for their input. “Sometimes sport is like that,” he said. “You just have to absorb the pressure and you must give credit to the senior guys who remained calm, and we just backed our players and the gameplan we had in place.”

After Dayaan Cassiem had pulled one back for South Africa, his brother took over with a series of stunning strikes as the home team began to test the physical Czechs with their slick execution, running up a decisive lead by the third quarter, which they transformed into the final 8-4 result.

ALSO READ: SA hockey teams set for a reality check at Indoor World Cup

Playing his first World Cup, Mustaphaa was grateful for the opportunities which came his way. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, and I am happy with the result and the work I have put in over the years.”

South African coach Justin Rosenberg was delighted with the outcome but knows there are more challenges ahead. “After the first chukka we could see their physicality and I said don’t get into a confrontation,” he said. “Just play our game and be resolute in defence, and then exploit them going forward by turning over the ball. “That’s what we did in the second and third chukkas when the guys were magnificent and then we shut the door in the fourth chukka. “This is one step further for us but there are still a lot of pool games, and anything can happen in a World Cup. We must just focus on what we can control.”

As much as Cassiem shone for the men’s side, so, too, did goalkeeper Cheree Greyvenstein stand out for the women.

ALSO READ: WATCH: SA teams ready to take on the world in Indoor Hockey World Cup in Pretoria

The SA Women may have lost again but they left the Heartfelt Arena with their heads held high after a supreme effort against the Netherlands.

Ranked 14 in the world, Jess O’Connor’s side fought every inch of the way before finally succumbing to a 3-1 defeat against the potent Dutch side.

Not only did Greyvenstein help to keep out six penalty corners to Netherlands, but she was also at the engine-room of the home team’s disciplined effort against a side which never stopped coming forward.

After conceding a goal in the seventh minute, South Africa equalised through Celia Seerane before Eva van ’t Hoog twice squeezed through the generally water-tight defence to give the Dutch their second victory.

Despite the final result, the emotions flowed over for Greyvenstein after the game.

“I think I’m in tears right now because it means so much to everyone,” she said. “Indoor hockey has come such a long way because we are now competing with No 2 in the world and to hold them to 3-1 is something we can be proud of.”

In coping with the relentless Dutch attack, she said it was just a matter of staying positive. “You just have to keep fighting until the end and it does take a lot of mental power. Even when you do concede a goal you just have to keep positive,” Greyvenstein added.

“For us as a team from where we had scores like 11-0 against the Netherlands in a previous World Cup, this is a confidence-builder for us going forward. “I’m not sure how we kept it up for the whole 40 minutes, but I know our motivation is that we are not doing it for ourselves, but for our badge and the country. We want to keep the fans entertained and feed off that.”

IOL Sport

Related Topics: