It’s been 42 years since Sudan registered a win at the African Cup of Nations and when it finally came, man, it came in style. The win handed them a quarter final berth, a place in the tournament most powerhouses as we have seen so far have failed to reach. The team mainly consisting of home based players beat Burkina Faso, forced a draw out of Angola and lost narrowly to Ivory Coast.
Going into yesterdays match, few gave Sudan a chance of progression but the belief of their nation, the belief of their people, the belief of their coach finally paid off at the end of their group match. Surely a late New Year gift to their country, a country that has been torn apart by war and politics, they had a chance to celebrate and I bet the whole of Sudan could finally sing in one voice, the voice of victory, victory brought about by not guns but 11 men on the pitch far away in Gabon.
You make your own luck and sure they did make theirs count. Angola were trailing by two goals on the other match of the day against Ivory Coast and what they needed to do was just to win one nil what they did perfectly. Angola once in a while threatened to stage a comeback but when Danny Mussunguna finally headed past his keeper to give Ivory Coast’s Bony was duly rewarded with a tap in you knew there was no way back for Angola and only luck and Burkina Faso would save them.
As Angola cursed their gods and got packing to go back home, Sudan could only celebrate for a while as Zambia is their next opponent, and for that matter, a very serious opponent. Zambia boasts of the likes of Katongo, Mayuka among other players who have so far carried the Chipolopolo flag high up in this year’s tournament. I don’t want to bet on the result of that match, but as my good friend Trevor says, Sudan can always pull a surprise. For a team that nobody even expected to pass the group stage, a victory over Zambia would surely be exceptional and one of the greatest upsets of the tournament.
Other than Sudan’s constant sunshine, the football victory provides a rare bright spot for a country battling high inflation and economic woes after last year’s secession of South Sudan. They are the only squad made up of locally based players, a fact that seems to have helped them through the group stages of this tournament. Should they not qualify for the Semi Finals, it will not be a failed story, it will be the story of hope, the story of togetherness even in the face of adversity, a story that the whole of Africa need to emulate and copy. And not just a story, a lesson to every country that together we can win, together we can make the world a better place and together nothing is impossible.
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