by Marion Malinga,
South Sudan coach Felix Komoyangi has attributed his team’s CECAFA senior challenge cup success to competitiveness following an unmatched run of good results in the recently concluded showpiece.
Despite exiting the tournament in quarter finals after losing 5-3 on penalties to close rivals Sudan, the Bright Stars stunned the continent by topping their group that had some of the tournament’s oldest participants including 2013 CECAFA finalists Sudan, Malawi and Djibouti.
They were the only team not to concede a goal in normal time in four matches as they beat Djibouti 2-0 in their first group game before shocking Malawi with the same score and wrapped up their group games with a draw against their neighbors Sudan.
“We are a very young team in Africa and FIFA at large but because we’re a competitive team, we managed to put up the fight against some of the continent’s big teams. it all comes down to technical awareness and the mental state of the team,” Felix said.
“We didn’t concede a goal in open play because we tried being tactical, approaching every game with a different game plan and taking every opponent differently. This is what helped us”.
Sudan eliminated South Sudan in a well contested derby that saw goal keeper Salim Ekram save the day for the Falcons as his spot kick save ensured their progress.
Their loss according to coach Felix was due to “luck”. “We had a good game against Sudan and matched them physically. We had a couple of shots on target and could have won it in regular time but luck wasn’t on our side.”
“But all in all we are happy and proud of our performance . The team was up to the task and they showed it. it was something so special and unique to us, finishing as quarter finalists”.
South Sudan’s next task is a home game versus Benin on 24th March in the 2017 AFCON qualifiers. The Bright Stars who played their first game in 2012 recorded their first ever competitive victory on 5 September after beating the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations semi finalists Equatorial Guinea 1-0 at Juba Stadium in their second Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group game.
They currently sit second in group C with 3 points and according to the coach, early preparation will pave way for their qualification.
“Our aim is to organise one or two friendlies before we face Benin in March. We are looking at teams that play similarly to Benin and those teams that have beaten them before but we are yet to confirm.
“We want to put South Sudan on a footballing map and this can only happen if we continue to work hard and performing well” Komoyangi’s side are in group C alongside West African giants Mali who currently top the group with 4 points, Benin their next opponent and the 2015 AFCON hosts Equatorial Guinea.
They are ranked 198th in FIFA rankings.