First and foremost, we should congratulate the national team, The Bright Stars, for fighting hard up to the end of the 90 minutes+. Not forgetting the fans who sacrificed to travel on road to Kampala by buses in order to cheer up the Bright Stars in Uganda.
We did not win the match but we won something more precious than just winning a football match. That is; the spirit of love, togetherness, peace and harmony for our country, South Sudan. This is clearly shown by the support the citizens gave the national team when they lost to Uganda by 5-1 for the second leg of the CHAN competition.
We should also recognize the efforts put in by the new administration of the South Sudan Football Association (SSFA), an administration that is only one month old in the system ought to have many challenges but hopefully things will improve because we have the right leaders in the FA.
Coach Bilal Felix also deserves sympathy, given the fact that he was short of experience players who were injured and those who were burned for two successive yellow cards. For example, Zakaria Scopus was ruled out for two yellow cards (against Burundi and in the first leg against Uganda).
What about midfielder, Khamis Leon? Leon scored the consolation goal for South Sudan, something that shows the spirit of fighting until the final whistle. He is a very influential player in our squad. Leon scored South Sudan’s first goal when the Bright Stars played Tusker FC of Kenya, on the celebration of the 1st independence anniversary in July, 2012 her in Juba. South Sudan lost that game by 3 goals to 1, but Khamis Leon’s goal remained in people’s minds forever.
Now, let’s come to some of the reasons why we were thrashed 5-1 in Kampala, Uganda on Saturday last week;
Poor preparations for the CHAN qualifier; with a new administration that had inherited a bankrupt FA, everything was than in a rush just to meet the CAF rules. The players were for their holidays when they were called for national duty. Therefore, most of them, if not all, were unfit to play the match both physically and mentally.
Lack of motivation; I am not sure about this point but as is the case with most African countries, when the players are not given something little, be it money or whatever, to motivate them, they normally do not give 100 percent performance. Although I believe our boys cannot do that to the nation.
Lack of exposure to tough games; as part of preparation for such a massive qualifier, SSFA should have organized friendly matches, a couple of them, against strong teams in the East African region. These would expose the Bright Stars to obtain experience of playing big games. I am sure the boys were intimidated by the large Uganda Cranes fans.
Injuries; this is not a major reason to duel on anyway but it is vital when the injuries affect players who are so influential in the team.
Finally, our Coach, Bilal Felix made some wrong choices going into that match. I am not going to mention names but I am sure after the game he himself realized that. You cannot start with a weak team when you play a strong team like Uganda. Uganda is the strongest team in East Africa currently. Even if there are no best players, the available are the best.
With these few notifications, I would like to say the national team should learn the bitter lessons from this experience and use it to improve the squad. Secondly, to avoid conflict of interest in choosing players, Coach Bilal should be given one responsibility. He should choose between coaching the Bright Stars and Kator FC. He cannot do both because it is already having negative impacts on the national team in that he has a conflicting interest in players.