Sports

Players must “die” for South Sudan, says head coach

 

South Sudan’s U-23 head coach Simon James called on his players to sacrifice for the country prior to the return leg against Tunisia in the return leg of the U-23 Afcon 2019/2020 Olympic Games qualifier.

The two teams settled for a goalless draw at the Juba Stadium on Wednesday last week with South Sudan feeling as losers after failing to score from dozens of scoring opportunities created.

“I have told my players that they can still get the result in Tunisia although it will call for a lot of work. The players must die-a-little on the pitch for the South Sudan flag,” explained the coach before the team left on

“Every team tends to be comfortable playing at home, but we believe we shall battle and get a good result,” the coach added.

The third and final round of the qualifiers will be held from June 3-11 to determine seven teams to join hosts Egypt.

South Sudan lose 3-0 to Mali in Bamako

South Sudan during the 5-0 loss to Gabon at Juba Stadium (Photo: David Mono Danga)

By David Mono Danga

The Bright Stars were trashed by three goals to nil by Mali in the AFCON 2019 group C qualifier in Bamako on Saturday.

South Sudan has lost all six matches and are bottom of the table with no point at all. The match was played at Stade Bamako.

Ramzi Sebit, South Sudan’s caretaker coach told The Juba Monitor in an exclusive interview on Wednesday that the Bright Stars will not take the game for granted even if they bottom of the group.

Prior to their travel to Mali, Coach Ramzi promised to fight for a point or more in Mali, saying it would gain points and improve the country’s world ranking.

Last week the South Sudan Football Association (SSFA) said it would incorporate some young players into the national team as soon as the qualifications were over.

“We have decided that we must rebuild our teams at all levels and some of the players in the U-23 team could find their way into the senior team,” President Francis Amin Michael had said.

“We must build for the future,” he emphasized.

South Sudan’s hopes lies in the youth team (U-23) as they have proven to provide a brighter future in the Bright Stars’ future endavours after excellent performance against top countries in the region.

The bright Stars knocked out neighbours Uganda 2-1 in the first round of the 2019 Afcon U-23 qualifiers. In their preparations to face Tunisia in the second round of qualifiers they played Eritrean senior team losing 3-0, drew with Sudan before being held to a goalless draw by Tunisia on Wednesday last week.

Defending champions Cameroon, Burundi, Guinea-Bissau and Namibia secured 2019 Africa Cup of Nations places on Saturday, raising to 19 the number of qualifiers for the tournament.

The remaining five places will be filled Sunday with South Africa among 11 countries hoping to make it to the June 21-July 19 showpiece in Egypt.

Cameroon needed a draw from a Group B clash with the Comoros in Yaounde, but overwhelmed the Indian Ocean islanders 3-0 with captain Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting among the goals.

Burundi were another side needing a point and they sealed a first Cup of Nations appearance by drawing 1-1 at home in Group C against Gabon, whose survival hopes rested on winning.

Namibia celebrated wildly despite a 4-1 Group K hammering in Zambia as they pipped Mozambique on head-to-head records for a place at the expanded 24-nation tournament.

Mozambique were poised to qualify when leading 2-1 in Guinea-Bissau entering stoppage time only to be undone by sloppy defending which allowed the home side to snatch a 2-2 draw.

Egypt, Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Uganda had qualified ahead of the final match day this weekend.

Angola joined them Friday when they edged Botswana 1-0 to pip 2017 bronze medallists Burkina Faso for a Group I place.

After Paris Saint-Germain forward Choupo-Moting had given five-time champions Cameroon a half-time lead, Christian Bassogog and Clinton Njie netted in the second half.

Cameroon were the original 2019 hosts, which would have guaranteed them a place, but they fell behind with preparations and Egypt took over.

Cedric Amissi put Burundi ahead on 75 minutes only for Omar Ngandu to concede an own-goal soon after, creating a tense finish as Gabon sought a second goal and qualification.

But the Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang-captained visitors could not unlock the Burundian defence in Bujumbura and bowed out two years after hosting the Cup of Nations.

Mozambique came from behind in Bissau to equalise through Stanley Ratifo and Nelson Divrassone thought his goal with one minute remaining would be the match winner.

But a Mozambican defender clumsily headed a Guinea-Bissau free-kick against his post and Frederic Mendy reacted quickest to tap in the rebound.

That left Namibia as possibly the happiest 4-1 losers in African football history as they finished level on points with Mozambique, who they beat home and away last October.

Ivory Coast, Ghana, Mali and Senegal won matches that had no bearing on qualification and Niger fought back to draw 1-1 with record seven-time African champions Egypt.

On Sunday, former champions South Africa must avoid defeat to qualify at the expense of Libya, whose home fixture has been moved to neighbouring Tunisia for security reasons.

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