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FIFA Approves Change Of Nationality For Capped Players

Thomas Deng & Mabil Bul Awer during Australian national team engagement

The Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) has today taken a decision to allow players to switch nationality for players that have already earned senior national team caps.

The decision was ratified during FIFA’s 70th Congress which took place via videoconferencing.

In the new decision, a player who has less than three international matches for a particular country before turning 21 years will be eligible to play for another country.

The new rule however doesn’t apply for games played at the FIFA World Cup, including qualifiers and Confederation tournaments such as Africa Cup of Nations, UEFA and Copa America among others.

Therefore, if a player features for a given country at the aforementioned tournaments, they will not be considered for change of nationality.

It should be noted that in 2004, a ruling came into effect that permitted a player to represent one country at youth international level and another at senior international level, provided that the player applied before their 21st birthday. 

South Sudan has plenty of players who are based in Australia, who will be welcomed into the Bright Stars team squad, they include Awer Bul Mabil and Thomos Deng, In August 2013, Mabil was called up by Australia for COTIF Tournament in L’Alcúdia, Spain. The tournament was used by the FFA to prepare players for their successful 2014 AFC U-19 Championship qualification campaign.

Deng & Mabil celebrating a goal for team Australia.

In March 2014, he was cleared by FIFA to play for Australia after a year-long process to obtain a birth certificate and gain exemption from FIFA eligibility rules. 

He featured for Australia in the 2014 AFC U-19 Championship, playing in all three of their games, the opponents were Uzbekistan, United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.

After showing impressive form with FC Midtjylland, Mabil was called up to the senior team for the first time. Participating in the Socceroos first training camp under new coach Graham Arnold.

On 16 October 2018 Mabil made his senior Australian debut against Kuwait in an international friendly match at the Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium. Mabil came on as a second half substitution for Mathew Leckie and scored his maiden goal for the senior national team in the 88th minute to give Australia their fourth and final goal in a 4–0 win over Kuwait in Graham Arnold’s first match of his second stint with the Australian national team. Mabil’s goal was assisted by Tomi Juric and Thomas Deng.

Mabil celebrated the goal with childhood friend and fellow South Sudanese refugee Deng, who was also making his international debut for Australia. Awer dedicated the goal, post-match, to his mother. 

Moreover He was part of the main squad of the Olyroos at the 2016 AFC U-23 Championship and put on an extremely impressive display throughout the tournament, garnering high praise from respected Australian pundits: Geoff Fullgrabe, Alan Vucenik, and Craig Foster.

Melbourne Victory’s Thomas Deng heads home a ball

Due to being born in Kenya and having South Sudanese heritage, he is eligible to play for Australia, Kenya and South Sudan.

In October 2018, Deng was named in the Socceroos squad for their training camp in the UAE and their friendly against Kuwait. In the friendly he made his debut, together with fellow South Sudanese refugee and boyhood friend Awer Mabil.

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