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A southern connection:

Out of the 30 players on this year’s Coastal Carolina men’s soccer roster, half of the players are from overseas.

Of those fifteen international players on this year’s roster, four players are from South Africa. And while several players have made an impact for the team this season, the headlines and stat sheets have been filled with the names of those that came from South Africa.

Yazeed Matthews, Tyrone Mondi, Tsiki Ntsabeleng and Jeranimo Power all hail from country that sits at the bottom of the African continent. Both Matthews and Ntsabeleng are from Johannesburg, South Africa and both players are the top two in terms of points accumulated on the team.

In fact, in terms of goals and assists, all four players from South Africa are represented in the top five in goals scored, assists and points. Of CCU’s 27 goals scored this season, 21 of them have been scored by Matthews (13), Ntsabeleng (5), Mondi (2) and Power (1).

To go even further with that statistic, of the 21 goals scored by players from South Africa, 10 of those 21 goals were assisted by another South African player.

When watching these for play together on the pitch, it is like there is a connection between them. Matthews opened up about that connection and why that connection has played a huge role in the success of this team this season.

“We know that we are the most talented team when we step onto the field,” said Matthews. “Any game we go and play, we know what is expected of us. We go into each match with a certain kind of confidence, not just us four but the team as a whole.”

While all four players certainly hope to go on and play professionally, there is more to why they came to the United States.

“I value education,” said Ntsabeleng. “Coming to the United States and to Coastal was a big step forward in advancing my education.”

Power agrees with his fellow countryman, stating that he too values an education while playing the beautiful game.

“For me, the biggest thing is the opportunity,” said Power. “We are exposed to things here in the United States that we aren’t exposed to back home such as certain facilities and ways to improve our game. Education is important as well. While we are all here to hopefully make it professionally one day, we are also here to get an education.”

Both Matthews and Mondi played at different colleges before coming to Coastal Carolina last season. Matthews played two years at Tyler Junior College, leading Tyler to back-to-back National Junior College Championship appearances in 2015 and 2016, winning it all in 2016.

Matthews talked about why he chose to finish his career here on the Grand Strand.

“Coastal felt like the right fit for me,” said Matthews. “I felt like they could certainly help progress my career and help pursue a professional career in soccer.”

Mondi, who came from a junior college in Ohio, said that seeing some players from South Africa on the team really drove him to Coastal Carolina.

“While we are all are from different areas of South Africa and come from different backgrounds, these guys are someone you can talk to or someone you can hang out with,” said Mondi.

While the four players from South Africa wreak havoc on the field, there is another South African watching from the sidelines. Kyle Timm, assistant coach for Coastal Carolina men’s soccer, is also from South Africa and played college soccer at Tyler Junior College.

“It’s been a fun season having these guys on the team,” said Timm. “Normally, I have had the opportunity to have a team where there is one South African at a time. This is the first time I have been a part of a team that have had four. For me, I know where they came from. I was once in their shoes once upon a time.”

It is difficult adjusting to life in college, especially as an international student. Power talked about the culture shock he experienced when he came to the United States.

“For me, there is so many things different here than back home,” said Power. “Different standards and different values but with Yazeed and Tyrone already being here in the United States, they were able to help give Tsiki and I some pointers on how to adjust.”

Mondi, Ntsabeleng and Power all have some more time to play here at Coastal Carolina while Matthews will be leaving Coastal after this season.

Ntsabeleng touched what he hopes to work on in the off-season.

“I hope to build on the experience I got on the field this year,” said Nstabeleng. “I want to become better each day and I know that if I work hard for it then I will reach that goal.”

The Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team fell to the Georgia State Panthers on Friday, Nov. 9 in the Sun Belt semifinals. The team will now wait to see if their record during the season was good enough to earn an At-Large bid in the 2018 NCAA Men’s Soccer Tournament.

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