Indoor USMNT Concludes Nkosi Cup Earning Valuable Experience
CAPE TOWN, South Africa – The No. 8 U.S. Men’s National Indoor Team took on No. 7 South Africa in their final match of the 2023 Nkosi Cup in Cape Town, South Africa. An even match until the half, the hosts pulled away for the 4-7 win.
USA started with a high, full-court press that exposed a lot of chances for intercepts and counters. In the 3rd minute, South Africa earned a penalty corner and Mustaphaa Cassiem scored, after the Wolves were down two defenders for an accidental line jump by goalkeeper Barry Merriman (Washington, D.C.). Midway through, South Africa used a quick counterattack and almost doubled their lead when M. Cassiem’s shot went inches past the post. In the 7th minute, USA earned a set piece and Aki Kaeppeler’s (New York City, N.Y.) hard drag was deflected away by an oncoming South Africa goalkeeper Anton van Loggerenberg. In the final minute, South Africa’s Dai Langford was issued a 2-minute yellow. USA made the most of the situation and just as time expired earned a penalty corner.This time Kaeppeler converted to make the quarter score 1-1.
USA removed Merriman to start the second quarter as South Africa was still down an athlete. Now playing with six out-court players, Lasse Nobereit (Koenigstein, Germany) picked up a green card and in the 12th minute, Merriman returned. A close chance came for South Africa shortly after when M. Cassiem picked it off at the top of USA’s defensive circle, pulled around Merriman and a secondary shot was saved by Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.) in goal. USA sat on defense for a period before Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) earned a penalty corner in the 17th minute. An unfortunate missed insert didn’t give USA a shot. With a little more than a minute to go the score line changed three times. First, Steven Paulo scored off a set piece. The Wolves went immediately down the other way and earned one of their own and Kaeppeler made it 2-2. Off the restart, an error by USA gave South Africa a penalty corner and Paulo converted to make it 2-3.
Thirty seconds into the third quarter, Nobereit evened the match after a great intercept and finish. Merriman was tested a few times before Kaeppeler earned a penalty corner in the 25th minute. USA saw another missed insert not allow them to get a shot off. Two minutes later the Wolves saw another set piece go to no avail. The final 2 minutes saw South Africa add three goals. The first came when M. Cassiem used great talent to weave through USA’s defense and finish past Merriman. Next, M. Cassiem tallied off a penalty corner and then, after a steal, Ryan Julius made it 3-6.
Play was back and forth for a period before consequence cards put USA down two athletes. With that, the Wolves tried to match the structure and removed Merriman. Midway through the frame, USA earned a penalty corner after taking a free hit quickly, catching a South Africa player not 3 yards while Langford earned a card. Off the chance, Kaeppeler recorded his hat trick and made it 4-6. Within the same minute, South Africa scored on an open next through Langford. The match concluded with Comiskey and Kaeppeler getting shots but USA couldn’t find the back of the goal again as they fell 4-7.
For more information on the 2023 Nkosi Cup, visit the event page.