New South Wales African Cup showcased the best in Football with exciting games and skillful players. Crowning of champions and lively celebration made it a highlight of the year for all.
By Magdalene Konneh (Maggie)
On a hot and humid Saturday, a large crowd of football fans from different backgrounds descended on the Western Sydney Wanderers Football Park at Rooty Hills for the grand finals of the 2023 NSW African Cup.
Before the matches began, over 10,000 spectators from culturally diverse backgrounds across Sydney were entertained with traditional drumming, DJ sets and music.
The women’s match between Sierra Leone and Egypt kicked off at 5:45 pm, with the men’s final between South Sudan and Sierra Leone starting at 8 pm.
The energy in the stadium was noticeable, with supporters waving flags, singing songs of victory and chanting the names of their players.
In the men’s final, South Sudan’s Bright Stars humiliated Sierra Leone 4-0 in front of their roaring fans to secure the trophy for the second time in three years.
Sunday Yona, the Player of the Tournament and South Sudan’s captain, was on the scoresheet alongside Bull Juack, who scored a brace, and Abraham Majok.
South Sudan’s coach, Wol Reece, expressed his delight with his team’s performance during the tournament. He acknowledged Sierra Leone’s strength but insisted that his team had proved they were the best.
“The boys did great in this year’s African Cup. We came in as one of the best teams in the tournament and today we just proved a point that we are indeed the best and we have the greatest squad”, Reece said.
“There were lots of incredible things I was impressed with in terms of the character the boys displayed and the style of football we played. As a team, we demonstrated an unmatched ability against the Sierra Leone side, that’s why they struggle against us”.
“Sierra Leone has a good team as well. We are aware of that, and we know with the slightest chance, things could go their way. This is football, so, we maintain our game plan and we did what we needed to do to win the match the South Sudan way”, Reece affirmed.
Earlier in the day, Sierra Leone ladies had also triumphed, beating Egypt 4-0 to win the trophy for the third time in a row. Yasmin Farrell, Christa Oliva and Abigail all scored to secure the win. Sierra Leone’s coach, Ibrahim Sesay, praised his squad for setting a historic record.
The coach for Sierra Leone ladies, Ibrahim Sesay was impressed with his squad, and he applauded the girls for having set a historic record as the first team to win the tournament three times consecutively.
“To me, I’m passionate in what I do in football coaching and passionate to see players keep taking their football further and to inspire more players through the ranks.
“From what I can see here there’s a massive range of talent in this group, hot prospects for the future and some young and upcoming players and some players that should be playing top grade football”, Sesay said.
In the junior and youth categories, Zimbabwe won the U14 and U15 finals, while South Africa won the U17 finals.
All in all, it was an incredible experience for those who attended the 2023 NSW African Cup finals.