Behind the scene: why the Bright Stars lost to Uganda in the AFCON U-20 Qualifiers


Coach Ait Abdelmalek said that most of the players exceeded the age limit as required by FIFA.

Analysis by David Mono Danga

The country has always put so much trust in the junior national team for various reasons but most notably due to the attention and care given to them. South Sudan’s new head coach, Ait Abdelmalek even said confidently that he saw a potential in the young boys because they look determined to perform better in training.

Although that trust is still there, the Bright Stars’ 5-1 defeat to the Uganda Hippos in the first leg of the AFCON U-20 Qualifiers played in Kampala last week, has put a lot of question marks against the promising stars.

Let’s look into the major circumstances that led to the loss, on paper as well as, behind the scenes.

The obvious and reported excuse was the removal of nine players who were not qualified to play the game simply because they were above the required age limit, as per the CAF rules and regulations.

we had only 13 eligible players (those who were 20 years and below) qualified to face Uganda and Coach Abdelmalek had to use substitute goalkeeper Tutu Kuwer upfront as a striker after the other nine players were thrown out of the squad by CAF for being over aged.

Age cheating is destroying football development in South Sudan; this is not only reserved for the junior team but also the senior team, where very old players still play for the national team. It makes the squad weak. Give chance to the young and energetic players who will be beneficial to the ream for many years to come.

Even if they underperform, they would get the experience and right age to fire South Sudan to a successful sports arena.

The question everyone is asking is; why did the South Sudan Football Association field illegible players to the national squad?

To answer that, the SSFA held a press conference on Wednesday where they formed several committees to deal with people who were involved in this selfish act that might cost the whole country a chance to qualify for the U-20 African Cup of nations in Nigeria next year.

Alul Daniel, the SSFA spokesperson said the people to be investigated are the Secretary General of the association, the chairperson of the National team committee, the Head of the delegation and the Technical staff.

But the SSFA has not notified the media on the mode of punishment the association would give the culprits. This saga could cost those found guilty of their jobs, especially if they did it intentionally to tarnish the image of the country r of the newly recruited coach.

In order to qualify now, the Bright Stars would have to be at their extreme best to score 6 goals and make sure Uganda does not score more than one goal. It is going to be had but they should win the game. They say where there is a will there is a way.

Apart from the above reasons, I don’t think the players themselves are not to blame for the loss against Uganda. Just like the senior team, the junior Bright Stars have a tendency of taking too many photos, even when they are about to enter the pitch they are still taking selfies.

That pride of representing your country should come with serious responsibilities and that includes giving your best to the team, whether in training or during the match.

When will you have time to concentrate on the game if all you do is taking pictures to post on Facebook. First win the match and then you can take all the best selfies in the world, no one cares, as long as the country is being represented well.

I was at the finals of the South Sudan Cup last Sunday between Kator FC and Al Mereikh FC. The latter were winners of the cup but initially, there was no sign of any player taking photos or behaving in a funny way because they knew they had a mountain to climb.

But after Mereikh were crowned champions; you can imagine how the noise went viral on social media; facebook twitter, whats App, Instagram and the likes.

The joy was seen in every single player who features for Al Mereikh, the fans, and the staff. All of them, it was so beautiful. But only after you have achieved what you have planned to achieve.

Some players were even happy after they were beaten in Kampala.

The coach is already having a tough time. Coach Abdelmalek said he rang a danger bell to SSFA as a sign of hazard because the errors made were administrative. Thankfully, he noted that he will replace the nine players who were considered ineligible to play in the AFCON U-20.

The second leg is going to be a massive one for everyone; the fans should realy turn up to help support the boys triumph against Uganda. South Sudan will qualify if they are cheered well, just the way the fans did against the Djibouti when we lashed them 6-0 last year.


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