KHARTOUM, Sudan, January 31 – Flags waved and cars honked in celebration Monday night after Sudan’s first Africa Cup of Nations win in three decades was enough to see them qualify for the quarter-finals.
“Up, up! Sudan up!” revellers shouted in the district of North Khartoum after Mudather Eltaib’s two goals sealed a 2-1 victory over Burkina Faso and provided the precious points to earn Sudan an unlikely berth in the next round.
Women stood in the middle of a busy road outside Khartoum’s airport carrying national flags and shouting, “Sudan! Sudan!”
Elsewhere, revellers caused a traffic jam, an AFP photographer saw.
“I’m so happy because after 40 years I saw Sudan join the ranks of the biggest teams,” said Ahmed Omer, 48, flying a large Sudanese flag from his car as he cruised the streets of North Khartoum with his family.
The last time Sudan reached the final eight, in 1970, they went on to win the title.
There was little to cheer about after that, as Sudan were knocked out in the first round in 1972 and 1976 and again in their next appearance in 2008.
But even before Monday night’s win coach Mohammed ‘Mazda’ Abdullah said Sudan had regained respect through its showing at this Africa Cup of Nations.
After a spirited 1-0 opening loss to Ivory Coast, Sudan on Thursday ended a three and a half decade scoring drought with a 2-2 draw against Angola, their rival for the runner-up spot sealed by Sudan in Group B.
They are the only squad made up completely of local players in this competition, up against the footballing highrollers, and were ranked second from the bottom.
“We have good news about Sudan. Because of this we are coming out into the streets to celebrate,” said Omer’s wife, Amal Mohammed.
Other than Sudan’s constant sunshine, the football victory provides a rare bright spot for a country battling high inflation and other economic woes after the secession last year of South Sudan.
The two countries are squabbling over oil, and have exchanged allegations that they are supporting rebels on each other’s territory.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said the crisis between them has become a major threat to regional peace and security.
Sudan will meet Zambia in the last eight in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, on Saturday.