AFCON U20: Bright Stars just a victory away from FIFA World Cup

AFCON U20: Bright Stars just a victory away from FIFA World Cup
Bright Stars junior players celebrate Jonathan Ajoung’s opener against Tanzania in the CECAFA Zonal Qualifiers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. [Photo: SSFA]

A victory for the national men’s Under-20 football team, in a quarterfinal match against Gambia on Friday, is all South Sudan needs to book a place at the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup.

The age group tournament will take place between 20 May to 10 July, in Indonesia.

The Bright Stars will face off with the Gambia, in Egypt, in the quarterfinals of the ongoing CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations.

A simple victory against the west African nation will not only guarantee the country a place in the semifinals but also an automatic ticket to the 24-team FIFA World Cup.

There are four slots reserved for Africa at the World Cup.

Meanwhile, CAF is using the age group AFCON tournament as a qualifier. Teams that book places in the semifinals will automatically secure a ticket to Indonesia.

Already, Guatemala, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Slovakia, Italy, Israel, France, England, New Zealand, Fiji, Uruguay, and host Indonesia have all booked their places in the World Cup.

South Sudan started the tournament on the wrong footing thanks to a slip-up against Congo in the opening match. Coach Peter Wani’s boys have since picked up the confidence that saw them beat Central Africa Republic and a 0-0 draw with Uganda.

Uganda, another east African side on the run for the four slots available, topped Group B by five points, the same as Congo. CAF had to cast lots to determine the group leader.

Wani will step onto the pitch knowing that a victory will guarantee South Sudan a maiden trip to the FIFA World Cup.

Early this week, the national men’s basketball team secured a maiden ticket to the FIBA World Cup, making South Sudan the first country from the block to qualify for the global stage.