Sudan beat South Sudan in a penalty shootout today in Ethiopia in the quarter-final of the CECAFA soccer tournament after a tough defensive battle which ended 0-0 after full time.
The dramatic penalty shootout to decide the match witnessed successful South Sudanese penalty kicks on the second, third and fourth shots after missing the first. But the Sudanese were flawless in the penalty shootout striking five in a row.
The final winning kick into the bottom right corner past the diving South Sudanese keeper was struck by Sudan's own keeper Ekram Salim.
Both Salim and his South Sudanese counterpart had shined during normal time, keeping the score at 0-0 in spite of numerous attempts in a fast-paced and at times physical match.
Sudan's squad managed to maintain pressure on the South Sudanese defence consistently but had difficulty creating shot opportunities against the Bright Star's set defence. For their part, the South Sudanese squad struggled to keep possession in the midfield and on the attack, but they created opportunities on breakout counter-attacks from their half.
In the 90th minute, for example, the South Sudanese squad created an opportunity off a counter-attack, winning a throw-in from near the Sudanese goal line that nearly led to a goal. The shot into the corner was saved by keeper Salim, preventing a last minute win by Bright Star.
South Sudanese deputy head of mission at the Embassy in Addis Ababa commented that South Sudan's team has shown a lot of talent saying, “They really have a bright future because the way they played and the talent that they showed that indicates that they have something to offer.”
“It brings unity and harmony and integration between nations. You can see these two teams are playing as if they are one team, they are being united by this football, because football is a sign of unity and sign of harmony and sign of hope.”
Players from both sides greeted and embraced after the match as the South Sudanese side congratulated their Sudanese counterparts on the win.
The win allows Sudan to move on to the semi-finals where they will face the winner of today's Kenya-Rwanda match.