Coach Zoran and His African Tigers
Sam Benstead, England, 2013, color, HDcam, 75'
South Sudan became an independent state in July 2011, following almost 50 years of civil war. Although still steeped in the memories of countless victims of violence, the new nation is seeking to make a place on the international soccer stage by forming its first national team. The man called in for this task is the Serbian Zoran Djordjevic, a dynamic and hugely ambitious veteran coach. The film follows the team over its first year, from the hunt for new players to buying a sheep called Champion as its mascot and the first international games. Zoran’s aggressive and even dictatorial style soon leads to conflict with the chair of the soccer federation and several senior politicians. As the euphoria of independence subsides, the team finds itself hit by bitter infighting, malaria and a financial crisis that threatens the state itself. What follows is a darkly comic and original portrait of the birth of a nation.