South Sudan’s first World Cup qualifier is a “match for unity”, said the head of the country’s football association. The national team will face Mauritania in the capital, Juba, this evening in the first leg of their preliminary round tie.
The country joined international football in 2012, a year after the country gained independence from Sudan, the team will be facing one of its biggest challenge, which is to qualify for its maiden world cup.
The match comes as South Sudan’s civil war continues, despite a peace deal.
The President of the country’s FA, Chabur Goc Alei told the BBC that given the conflict, the match was not just a sporting milestone for the country.
“Today is really is a very big day for the whole country – all of the people are really excited,” he said.
“We call it ‘the match for unity’, because when we are playing all the people they forget about the war, they forget about everything, they come as one nation, because sport in general and football in particular [is] uniting our nation now.”
The match kicks off by 6pm, Nigerian time today.