Finally independent from Sudan after five decades of civil war, one of South Sudan’s first moves as a new nation in 2011 was to form a national football team. Despite losing players to malaria, having to buy secondhand boots and resorting to hitchhiking to transport its goalposts, the team held its own against Uganda’s national team, ending its first international game with a draw in July 2012.

Their first coach, Zoran Đorđević of Serbia, had previously coached the Bangladeshi and Yemeni national teams. In 2013, he made South Sudan’s mascot a baby goat named Champion.