It may be pre-season conditioning time for most Hyundai A-League stars at the moment, but Melbourne Victory’s Kenny Athiu is preparing for a huge moment in his own, and his country’s history.
South Sudan have only been a FIFA member since 2012, less than a year after they gained recognition as an independent nation.
The uncapped Athiu has been called up to be part of the Bright Stars’ squad as they attempt to qualify for their first ever major international tournament.
The first time South Sudan entered FIFA World Cup qualification, for Russia 2018, they were two-matches-and-done following a 5-1 aggregate defeat to Mauritania in the first round of the African zone.
The 27-year-old Victory attacker will join his teammates for their Qatar 2022 first round first leg, against Equatorial Guinea at Al-Hilal Stadium in Sudan, kicking off at midnight Thursday, 5 September AEST.
South Sudan, ranked 169 in the world, will be the underdogs against their 139th-ranked opponents who reached the semi-finals of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations on home soil.
The second leg is set for Monday 9 September at 2am AEST in the Estadio de Malabo. Another two-legged defeat and four years of dreams will be dashed in the space of five days.
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