20/04/2024
Ex-Western United attacker Valentino Yuel is set to meet his grandparents for the first time, as he's been called up by the South Sudan national team.

Former Western United attacker Valentino Yuel is about to meet his grandparents for the first time in his life in a twist which could shape his professional soccer career destiny.

Off contract and currently training with Adelaide United’s A-League side, Yuel has been summoned by the South Sudan national team for two vital African Nations Championship Group B games against table topping Uganda next month.

Global talent scouts are destined to watch the clash with Yuel leaving Adelaide on Tuesday morning for clashes in Kampala, Uganda on November 11 and six days later in Nairobi, Kenya.

“it’s actually the first time I’m going back to South Sudan,’’ Yuel said.

“But in the past a lot of things have come in the way and this is helping me to go.

“Mum was more than happy for me to go, obviously everyone is worried about the COVID restrictions.

“But now I get a chance to meet my grandparents Ajak Mabil and Kuach Wol from my mum’s side and Ateny Gum and Ken Deng Akoon from dad’s side.

“I have never met them. 

“It’s something that I have been dreaming of for a while and I also get to meet my extended family too. “

Yuel had been back in Adelaide for about five weeks but was forced to quarantine for a fortnight after returning from Western United commitments.

He is also expecting to quarantine in Adelaide again when he returns from international duty next month. 

Based at Magill with six brothers and sisters and his parents, Yuel was born in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya after his parents fled war torn Sudan.

He arrived in Adelaide in 2005 from the Kakuma camp before kick starting his NPL career with Adelaide Comets.

He had stints with Cumberland United, Campbelltown City and Adelaide City before signing for Victorian NPL club Bentleigh Greens last year.

His superb NPL form saw Yuel attract attention from Western United before penning a one-year deal as a mature aged rookie.

However, now South Sudan is giving Yuel an opportunity to showcase his talent internationally.

The nation was granted FIFA member status in 2012 but is yet to quality for a major tournament.

Yuel will have some familiarity with ex-Melbourne Victory attacker Kenny Athiu joining the squad next week.

Former Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory keeper Majak Mawith, who is contracted to Port Melbourne, is also expected to join Yuel on the international flight.

“They (South Sudan) called me up when COVID-19 hit (earlier this year) but I couldn’t go because of my commitments with Western United,’’ Yuel said.

“But then I got the opportunity again and now being off contract it’s even better for me.

“The next two games are very important for us and our coach (German born Cyprian Besong Ashu) said “we have to be at our strongest to beat Uganda.”

“They’re a strong team and some of their players have come from League One and League Two in England.”

“We’re a new nation, new to the scene, and we’re trying to make history.

“I can also play as a No. 9 but this international game is going to open a lot of doors for me and I hope I do play well and help the team to qualify which is the most important thing for me.”

Yuel had planned to train with Adelaide United a little longer in the hope of landing a contract before he got a second call up to the South Sudanese national team.

“Everything was going well and they (Adelaide) did mention they’ve also got a lot of other wingers coming (to training) but they were happy to have a look at me,’’ Yuel said.

“It’s been a very good environment at Adelaide United and they have looked after me.

And two of Yuel’s younger brothers also play the game.

“Anthony Yuel is with Comets and Dominic Yuel was playing for Whittlesea Rangers in Victoria until the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ Yuel said.

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