By Oyiti Pernyang
The South Sudan National TeamUnder23 last Saturday, qualified to the semi-finals of CECAFA Challenge Cup 2021 after beating Djibouti2-nil.
After the two teams battled so defensively for over eighty minutes without scoring, South Sudan’s striker Aluk Akech managed to manoeuvre his way through the Djiboutiandefenders and registered their first goal at eighty seven minutes. A minute into the two additional minutes, a Djiboutiandefender fouled Loki Emmanuel in the penalty spot leading to second goal by Dominic Angelo before the final whistle was blown.
Speaking tothe media shortly after the match,Coach Simon James Yorattestedthat the first Half was abittough because his players were yet to understand the opponent’s tactics, leaving them goalless. However, Coach Simon said their chances increased in the second half because the players marked their opponent’s tactics.
“The game was very hard for the players because both teams were competing for a chance in the second stage of the tournament. Our opponent played so defensively not until the boys put more pressure and managed to score in the last minutes. I congratulate them for playing their role to take us to semi-finals,” Coach Yor said.
He saidtheir next match against Tanzania in the semi-finals would be tough, expressingoptimism that his team wouldbattle hard to reach the finals.
“I would like to congratulate the players for playing their part to reach semi-finals. My major concern now is our game in semi-finals against Tanzania,we are going to prepare very well for it, I know that Tanzania is not an easy team, they have good and mature players— in last year’s CECAFA U20, they won against us in the semi-finals to reach finals, however this time around we shall not repeat that mistake again. We shall prepare to play well and reach the finals,” Simon believes.
The upcoming Bright Star’s match was its last in Group stages, the Youngsters conceded two goals from Kenya in its first match of Group stages on 21stJuly, leaving their position vulnerable in the competition with a must win game against Djibouti which also depends on Tanzania and Uganda match in Group A — however, Uganda was knocked off after a 1-1 draw which left them second in their group with two points, making South Sudan’s dreamsof becoming CECAFA U23 2021 Champions alive again. The team will face Tanzania in the semi-finals on Tuesday, 27th July 2021.