Khartoum — With the coming of French Coach Hubert Velud, the Sudanese National Football Team seems to be regaining grounds it had long lost in regional football.
The country that co-founded the Confederation of African Football with Egypt and South Africa, could not win but the African Cup of Nations in 1970, and also its club team Almeriikh winning the African Confederation Cup in 1989.
Otherwise, the country did not make any clear success in African football, often unable to make it to the finals of the African Cup of Nations.
When he assumed his post in February 2020 many football critics feared for the reputation of Mr. Velud who achieved a record of successes on the African Continent. The fear was justified in that the football situation in the country was not promising and was plagued with a lot of disorderliness. The national teams of the game were not given that care given to club teams and much money was needed to be spent on the country's flag bearer.
But about 18 months after Mr. Velud took the responsibility, the contour of the country's football saw a lot of change. The senior national team, which was absent from the finals of the African Cup of Nations for nine years made it this time, and shot its way to the contest's finals to be organized in Cameroon in early 2022.
It was a hard won qualifying, given the caliber of Sudan's rivals. Having been defeated 2/0 in the away match against giants Ghana, it came to beat them 1/0 in Khartoum, leveling with them in points.
The Sudanese National Football Team
Then there remained the erstwhile untouchable Bafana Bafana of South Africa. It was indeed an uphill fight. But Mr. Velud, working calmly as usual, rearranged his papers very well and carefully exploited the skill and speed of his two forwards Mohammad Abdelrahman (nicknamed Algurbal) and Saif Malik to disqualify the South Africans. A quarter of an hour before half time, the Sudanese had netted two thunderous goals in the Bafana net.
Then there came the Team's turn with the newly FIFA-authorized - seemingly lucrative- " the Arab Cup," or, better, the Arab-FIFA Cup championship, as the World football governing body authorized it to be named.
In mid June the National Team had to play a qualifier for the Arab champion's finals, slated for late 2021, facing the powerful and well organized Libya in a match played in Doha, Qatar.
As they did with the South Africans, the Falcons of Jidiane, put the Libyan side under heavy pressure from the start. Ten minutes in play, the Sudanese were in the lead, with Mohammad Abdelrahman netting from a penalty, after the Libyans brought his fellow forward Saif Malik to the ground in the penalty area.
But the Libyans would not despair, organizing a wave after wave of strong attack. All through the game, Mr. Velud, calmly rearranged his lines, kept his net clean and threatened the Libyans with forceful counterattacks.
Before contracting Sudan, Mr. Velud had coached JS Kabayle of Algeria which he left in mid season 2019-2020.
As a goalkeeper, Mr. Velud played for the French Reims, Chalons-sur-Marne.
He coached Chalons-sur Marne, Gap, Paris FC, Gazelec Ajaccio, Clermont, Cherbourh, Creteil, Toulon, Beauvais. He also managed the Togo National Football Team from 2009 to 2010.
Velud was shot in the arm in an attack by Angolan rebels while traveling with Togo's national football team to the 2010 African Cup of Nations, according to Wikipidia.
Following the contract signing ceremony, Mr. Velud had said he was "happy to manage the Sudan National Team in the coming stage."
"I know quite a lot about the Sudan National Team," he added.
Mr. Velud said his job was to elevate the Sudan National Team to the finals of African Cup of Nations.
"My coming job is to take the Sudan National Team to the finals of the African Cup of Nations in 2022," he said. And he was up to his promise.
HOW HE WORKS THE GAME
As a former goalkeeper, Velud was always able to read the game and observe players. This has given him an acute sense of tactical awareness that helped him develop a successful philosophy that has made him one of the most sought-after coaches in Africa, according to the publication FIFA.Com.
Nasr Eddin Alsheghail
VELUD AND AFRICA
About his experience with African football, Mr. Velud is of the view that: "To coach in Africa, you need to love the Continent first and foremost, and to adopt a flexible mindset," Velud told FIFA.com. "You also need to have a desire to explore and discover the countries where you work."
"Coaching in Africa has brought me a lot of success, especially in Algeria, which got my foot in the door before I went on to win the CAF Champions League with TP Mazembe of Zaire. That title landed me lots of coaching offers, but all this came about because I love and appreciate Africa," he said
For the African qualifiers for Qatar 2022, the Falcons of Jediane have been pitted against Morocco, Guinea and Guinea Bissau, quite a difficult job indeed! So we have to wait and see what Mr. Velud would do.
In the Arab-FIFA championship, the Sudanese National Team will first challenge powerful Algeria, then Africa's football giants Egypt and then Lebanon.
On the way towards that contest the Sudanese will be camping in the United Arab Emirates, playing two friendly matches there before leaving for Qatar, where the contest will be held.
Friendly matches are a special passion for Mr. Velud. He seems always ready to play a friendly against any national team, big or small. And this has sure helped his players a good deal.
WHAT VELUD SAYS ABOUT SUDANESE PLAYERS
Always on the watch for new promising players, Mr. Velud roams the Sudanese stadia to spot talents.
As a result he now seems to have two first national teams on his hands. In the friendly matches he plays he is always keen to involve as many players as he can. He does the same in official matches, always bringing new faces.
"Sudan is sitting on a treasure of distinct football talents. But these talents need proper, graded, scientific preparation," Mr. Velud has maintained in a recent interview.
He urged the players "to take care of themselves and assume a spirit of professionalism and seize the opportunities they are allowed to give good showing in the coming African contests."
He did not rule out promoting elements from the Olympic team to the first squad.
FIFA REWARDS FOR SUDAN
In an exhilarating piece of news FIFA, the world football governing body, said has put the shirt of midfielder Nasr Eddin Alsheghail (33) in its museum, saying the token was because the player had played international matches more that any other player. Equally, forward Mohammad Abdelrahman's shirt was also kept in the FIFA museum to honor his scoring talent. These two awards were announced by the FIFA following the match against Libya in the Arab -FIFA Cup qualifiers.
Abdlrahman was born 10 July 1993, winning the title of Sudan League scorer in 2017, with 22 goals. He was also named scorer of the Arab Champions League, season 2018-2019, scoring 7 goals, with Merrikh Club.
Abdelrahman had first played for the Hilal Club of Omdurman. But because of a series of injuries, the Hilal side did not seem keen to renew his contract, an opportunity Hilal's rivals Merrikh seized and took him with pleasure .
With Merrikh, Abdelrahman's true talent showed up with many foreign clubs seeking his service. He then sealed a contract with the Algerian Ahli Bueraij. He later returned to Merrikh until he was taken back by Hilal last year in what was described as the highest contract in local Sudanese football.
Saif Malik (nicknamed Saif Terry) was born on 1 January 1994. He first played for the Khartoum Club here until when he shone in the African championship for local players in Morocco in 2018, helping his side to win a bronze medal in that contest. Merrikh was then to take him after his contract had expired with the Khartoum Club.
Unconfirmed news is circulating that Abdelrahman and Saif are being approached by important clubs from outside the country.