South Africa produced a scintillating and devastating final four minutes of the second test match to turn a two-goal deficit into a three-goal lead. Miracle man Mustapha netted a 60 second hat-trick after captain fantastic Jethro Eustice had dragged South Africa back into the contest and Dayaan Cassiem had restored parity with a goal of the finest order.
Namibia collected their third draw against the South African Indoor Hockey Men over the past six years in the opening test match but were denied a first victory in that time by the late heroics of Mustapha Cassiem. With both sides having settled for a draw in the opening game, it offered the two World Cup competitors a wonderful benchmark from which to strike as the continued the rivalry in the second test today.
In the opening test match the Namibians came out surging and had established a 2-0 lead within the opening five minutes as the hosts were caught napping. It was a far more palatable start got coach Justin Rosenberg as the early exchanges were much tighter and opportunities were incredibly limited. The opening chukka passed in the blink of an eye and despite a sizeable amount of excitement, there was no goal and the quarter ended 0-0.
It was the Namibians that broke the deadlock first as they took advantage of their first penalty corner of the game and Ernest Jacobs stood up from the Dakota Hansen push and left no doubt in the mind. South Africa were denied by the brilliant DJ Strauss from their opening two corners, the second save with his helmet reminded everyone why he is often considered an All-Star in the Indoor Hockey game. Namibia took advantage of the momentum gained from their captains saves and landed a quick double punch. Jacobs doubled the advantage before the 17-year-old sensation JP Britz made it 3-0 to the Namibians. Namibia had one more chance before the break, but van Loggerenberg denied the goal and it was half-time!
South Africa pulled their first goal back early in the third quarter through a well-executed penalty corner and Rusten Abrahams netting his 9th international Indoor goal. Abrahams then almost immediately gave away a penalty corner which the South Africans defended superbly. South Africa were looking to their experienced campaigners to lift them in this game and Justin Domleo, in his 40th test match, did just that. Taking a quick free hit and finishing with a trademark Domleo finish that his kids watching at home would have been delighted with.
With all the momentum in their camp the South Africans will be disappointed as they conceded a yellow card for skipper Jethro Eustice and within 60 seconds of the card top goal scorer of the African Indoor Cup of Nations Fagan Hansen restored the 2-goal lead. The match was developing tension at an intense rate and experienced umpire Ayden Shrives gave both teams the opportunity to calm things down. South Africa then had a penalty corner variation shot by Mustapha Cassiem defended on the line by Nico Neethling. 4-2 it remained at the end of the third quarter.
After riding out two green card suspensions, the South Africans set up a grandstand finish when skipper Jethro Eustice took matters into his own hand, drove through the middle and a wonderful diving finish brought the difference back to just 1 goal, with 4 minutes remaining. South Africa needed a grandstand finish if they were going to win the game.
Grandstand is probably an understatement as the final three minutes saw South Africa score four goals. A sensational moment of quality from Dayaan Cassiem pulled scores level before a 60 second hat-trick from Mustapha Cassiem took a tight tussle and landed it as a comfortable victory for the South Africans. The Namibians will be disappointed with the finish, while the South Africans will probably be disappointed that they needed that finish.
The SA Men now lead the series 1-0 with the two back in action tomorrow at 19:45 for the third test.