Half a century ago, Sudan were among the most feared sides in African football – in just the same way Cameroon, Ghana and Ivory Coast are respected today. In 1970, Sudan hosted and won the Africa Cup of Nations to emerge as kings of African football.
But just because they are no longer the giants of African football meant that Sudan are also-rans on the continent. While Sierra Leone are still in search of another Cup of Nations appearance, the Sudanese have already made two more finals in the last eight years.
But with news of the game in the east African country so hard to come by, Football Sierra Leone spoke with leading Sudanese United Kingdom-based pundit Abdul Musa to get a feel of how seriously the country is taking the qualification for the 2017 finals in Gabon and why Sierra Leone should not stand between them and another appearance.
Where the game will be won and lost on Sunday?
“I think Sudan will benefit from Sierra Leone not being at full strength especially without my friend David Simbo, we always communicate and he knows Sudanese football really well after spending 18 months with Al Hilal so for that, I think we have the more experienced side for this game.
“Sudan will be looking to start strong in front of a 35,000 crowd in a must-win match in order to have any chance of qualifying.
“For Sierra Leone I predict they will come to Sudan well organised defensively looking to make use of any chance going forward, I think the team more clinical in front of goal will steal the points.”
Is Khartoum a difficult place to win?
“More so at club level in CAF Competitions when Al Hilal or Al Merriekh plays but in terms of the national team, in recent years under Mazda, Sudan has failed to treasure home advantage.
“In AFCON 2015 qualifying, the national team lost at home to South Africa and to Congo Brazzaville which ultimately diminished our hopes.
“Five years ago, it was much more difficult to beat Sudan at home; they definitely need to win their home games in this campaign if they are to advance.”
Sudan failed to qualify for AFCON 2015, your reaction?
“I’d say this was down to poor preparation mentally, physically and tactically from the coach. Barely any friendlies were played throughout the campaign, camps before games only lasted days before matches – poor organisation/communication from the FA who to be fair were suffering a bit financially.
“This resulted in Sudan losing 2 of their home games in qualifying; there was really little hope anyways on paper considering the opposition.
Is Head Coach Mazda still using a 4-5-1 formation with lone star striker Mudathir Kareka?
“Recently the coach has switched to a 4-2-2-2 formation which Sudan used through qualifying; it didn’t work to well so I expect some tactical changes against Sierra Leone on Sunday.
“Starman Mudathir Kareka, to be honest, has been in bad form recently at club level with Al Hilal netting only 3 times in 14 matches in the league this season, Sudan will be relying on more on the likes of Bakri Abdelgader and Mohamed Ahmed Bisha to provide the goods up top vs Sierra Leone.
On the Standard of Sudanese league.
“The National team fully relies on domestic league players coming from 10 different teams in Sudan’s top division including 8 from Al Merriekh and 7 from Al Hilal – the two giants in Sudan who are also in this year’s last 8 of the CAF Champions League.
“The standard is definitely getting better in recent years; more teams like Ahly Shandy and Khartoum Al Watani who recruited Ghanaian 2014 World Cup Coach Kwesi Appiah are starting to challenge Al Hilal and Al Merriekh at the top of the league.
“The two top teams are finding it harder to win especially away from home, a lot of teams have improved, and this is all good for the league and for the football in general in the country.”
This is the third time both country’s facing each other, in 2002 World Cup Qualifiers for Korea Rep/Japan, Sudan ended 3rd position in group B defeating Sierra Leone home and away scoring five goals in the two legs. Nigeria won the group while Sierra Leone first from
This is the third time both country’s facing each other, in 2002 World Cup Qualifiers for Korea Rep/Japan, Sudan ended 3rd position in group B defeating Sierra Leone home and away scoring five goals in the two legs. Nigeria won the group while Sierra Leone first from bottom in the 5th position.
10 Mar 2001 Sierra Leone v Sudan W 0-2 FIFA World Cup qualifier
29 Jul 2001 Sudan v Sierra Leone W 3-0 FIFA World Cup qualifier
Sudan Squad: Goalkeepers: Captain, Al Moez Mahjoub, (Al Merriekh), Jahed Mahjoub, (Merriekh El Fasher), Yaseen Yousif, (Al Ahly Shandi), Mohamed Ibrahim – (Khartoum Al Watani)
Defenders: Amir Kamal , Ahmed Dufor , Musaab Omer,( Al Merriekh), Saif Eldin Masawi, Moawia Bashir-(Al Hilal), El-Tahir El Hadj,(Al Rabta Kosti), Salah Nimr, (Khartoum Al Watani), El-Taj Ibrahim, (Hilal El-Obayed), Abdel Basit Sherif, (Hilal Al-Fasher), Faris Abdullah, (Al Ahly Shandi).
Midfielders: Ramadan Agab, Alaa Eldin Youssef, (Al Merriekh), Mohamed Ahmed Bisha, Nasr Eldin El-Shigel, Nazar Hamid, (Al Hilal), Omar Mahmoud, Khatab Faisal, (Al Ahly Shandi), Ahmed Jalal El Din (Al Rabta Kosti), Muhand El Tahir, (Hilal El-Obayed), Zaki Rahma, (Merriekh Kosti), Hassan Kamal, (Merriekh El Fasher)
Strikers: Mudathir El Tayeb ‘Karika’, Salah Ibrahim ‘El-Jizoli’ (Al Hilal), Nadir El-Tayeb, (Al Ahly Shandi), Wali Al-Din Musa, (Ahli Madani), Ahmed Adel, (Hilal Al-Fasher), Bakri Abdel Gader, Mohamed Ankaba, (Al Merriekh)
Coach: Mohamed Mazda Abdallah
Sierra leone Squad: Defenders: Umaru Bangura, Abu Suma, Mohamed Kamanor, Ibrahim Kamara, Yeami Dunia, Osman Y. Kamara.
Midfielders: Kwame Quee, Sorie Barrie, Mohammed Kamara, John Kamara, Abu Bakarr Mansaray
Strikers: Christian Moses, Abdul Bangura, Badara Kella JR, Sallieu Tarawallie, Kabiru Mansaray, Mustapha Bangura
Coach: John Jebbor Sherrington