Home | News    Monday 28 January 2008

Sudan’s rough diamonds now chase Euro dream

January 27, 2008 (KUMASI, Ghana) — Sudan’s return to the centre stage may already have ended with two heavy defeats but they also know that for them to compete with the best in Africa, they will need to export their top players to Europe.

The Sudanese were one of the founding fathers of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and even won the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations but it took them 32 long years before they would be back among the cream of the continent’s football.

Football in Sudan has been on the rise in the past two years and officials attribute this to the personal support of the country’s President Omar al-Bashir, who approved a budget of two million US dollars for the preparation of the Nile Crocodiles for the Nations Cup.

The exploits of both Al Hilal and Al Merreikh in last year’s continental club competitions are well documented while the domestic league has attracted massive sponsorship deals like a million dollars for TV rights.

"This is the first big tournament for all of us. We have seen that we lack experience and so made some silly mistakes to give our opponents confidence from the beginning. We created chances but could not finish them off," said coach Mohamed Abdallah.

"All the same, it was great to be part of the Nations Cup again. It was a chance for the players to show the rest of the world what they are capable of. I hope some of them would have interested some clubs in Europe.

"By going to Europe, where the best football is played, the players will be better exposed, gain the necessary experience and inspire others. That can only benefit the national team."

"Our players need to go to Europe even if it is to the lower divisions because this will help our football tremendously as we have seen that we will never be good enough if the players stay put at home," added the Secretary-General of the Sudan Football Association, Magdi Shams.

It is known though that many Sudanese players despite their talent have failed to make the grade outside this vast country.

A prime example is striker Haytham Tambal, regarded as one of the country’s all-time greats. Last season he was expected to explode in the South African Premier League with Orlando Pirates but after a single appearance for The Buccaneers, he was heading home.

"It has to do with the culture. In Sudan, they are comfortable - a car, money to take care of their needs and they are adored. So why go through the hassles in some strange land?," remarked Shams.

"We have been talking to them, trying to make them understand that there is a far bigger picture for both player and our football if only they take the chance in Europe.

"That was why we trained in Spain before coming to Ghana. We exposed them to a more professional set-up there. That is what they will get when they move."

He continued:"And this appears to be working already because a player like (Ritshard) Jastein is now convinced that he wants to be playing week after week against his other African brothers like Drogba and Eto’o."

Defender Eshag Korongo has already undergone trials with Auxerre while the likes of Mohamed Ali Safari and Badr Al Din Galag will also soon be on their way in search of a new European dream.

Nasir Mohamed of Al Sadda newspaper said the country has quality players who could succeed in Europe with a little push.

"There is raw talent here but they must be prepared to work their socks off and adapt to life abroad quickly to make it in Europe. That is the hope," said Mohamed.

(AFP)