South Sudan received the biggest loss so far in the ongoing CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup when they were thumped 3-0 by neighbours Ethiopia in their opening Group B match and coach Abdalrahman Chol has cited his team’s poor preparations leading up to the tournament as the main reason for their dismal showing against the Waaliya Antelopes.
Aiming to better their 2015 showing in which they reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their history, the youngest country in the world arrived in Kenya with at least half of their squad absent due to issues with logistics and club attachments with six players arriving a day before they took on Ethiopia.
“We have not had adequate preparations leading up to this tournament,” said a disappointed Chol. “The players haven’t trained together because some of them joined us when we were already here.”
Midfielder Tiem Thok is one of the players who joined the team on Monday 4 and struggled to get a foot hold in the game and was eventually substituted in a double change early in the first half, with his coach going on to explain the decision as a cautionary measure as the player was still recovering from an earlier injury.
“The changes were made because the players were not fit. Thok had to come off because he was struggling from an earlier injury which we didn’t want aggravated any further,” he said.
The changes did not yield any fruit as they ended up conceding two more goals in the second half with Ethiopia’s match fitness visible as they outran their opponents throughout carving chance after chance.
In spite of the setbacks, Chol is still optimistic that his charges can better themselves and will give an improved performance in their next outing.
“In football you win some and you lose some. It was our turn to lose but I know in the next game we will be a different side from the one you have just witnessed because at least now we have a full house and we will train together,” he concluded.
South Sudan will next take on reigning champions Uganda on Friday 8 December before concluding the group stage against Burundi three days later on Monday 11.
Since becoming a sovereign state in 2011, South Sudan has featured in the last three regional tournaments. Failing to win a single game in the first two editions in 2012 and 2013 before making the quarter-finals in 2015.