It's hard to believe that countries are already playing qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup. But, it's true: Preliminary matches began over the weekend. The top teams then receive an invitation to the regional tournaments. And nowhere is the competition more fierce than in Africa. A whopping fifty-three teams vie for only five spots. Do the math: Only 9% of the nations get to advance to the BIG DANCE. This is the smallest percentage for any of the six FIFA Regions.
Nonetheless, the South Sudanese want to show the world they can accomplish one important thing: Making it to the 2018 World Cup in Russia. First, they assembled a team and hired a coach from Korea, Lee Sung-Jea. He's managed to take the young, raw talent of the Lions and turn them into an organized unit. Last month, they won their first-ever competitive game, barely edging Equatorial Guinea 1-0. Atak Lual accounted for the lone goal. Yesterday...after a 24 hour rain delay...South Sudan played their first ever FIFA match and tied Mauritania 1-1. They must win or tie against Djibouti (easy) and Malawi (hard) to advance.