William Akio Accepts South Sudan Call-Up
Valour FC forward William Akio has been called up to the South Sudan national team.
The 23-year-old striker’s first season of professional football with Valour saw the forward feature in every possible game, scoring eight goals from a 28 match CPL season while featuring in both of the club’s Canadian Championship matches, too.
With Akio now having wrapped an individually excellent season at the CPL level, it’s no surprise that South Sudan has come knocking. The country is set for friendly matches against Gambia and Algeria on November 13 and 15, with the Bright Stars squad set to undergo a few days of training prior to the two games.
Akio will be travelling to Juba, the nation’s capital, to collect his South Sudanese passport and prepare with the squad before travelling to Dubai for the friendly matches.
The youngster announced the news through his popular YouTube channel, where viewers have been able to follow his career through a series of ongoing video blogs. Akio says he will continue to record videos while on national team duty:
The South Sudan national team is coached by Stefano Cusin, who joined the team in September. The Italian head coach was born in Montreal, and has spent the majority of his coaching career in Africa and Asia. The international window will represent a golden opportunity for him to look at the players made available to him and make his assessments for further selections.
Prior to signing with Valour FC for his rookie season, Akio was an expected MLS SuperDraft candidate after bagging seven goals and two assists in ten matches for the NCAA side Texas Rio Grande Valley in 2020. While the pandemic impacted his draft eligibility through conference schedule changes, it meant that the former Calgary Foothills athlete was still available when the CPL season came into play.
Whether Akio gets minutes against Gambia and Algeria remains to be seen, but the 23-year-old says he’s excited to go and represent his country in what he expects to be an eye-opening experience. He also made sure to note that given both matches are friendlies, he won’t be cap-tied to South Sudan in case the Canadian national team comes knocking.
I’m really excited. This is going to be life-changing for me. We’ll see how it goes in terms of my future with the national team. It is a friendly, so I don’t necessarily cap-tie with South Sudan. I can still play for Canada if they ever come calling. This is just a really good first step in my career to get some experience at the national team level.William Akio
While Akio himself was born in Kenya, this came in the context of his parents being in a refugee camp after fleeing the civil war in South Sudan. As reported by Ed Tait, William and his older brother James were both born in Nairobi before his parents Paul and Grace immigrated into Canada, settling in Calgary.
Akio had to play against one of his four brothers throughout his rookie season, with younger sibling Victor Loturi having also landed in the CPL with Cavalry FC. Like Akio, he had developed with the Calgary Foothills prior to signing with Cavalry in both 2019 and 2021. Perhaps another one on the radar for the South Sudan national team.
Akio isn’t the only Valour FC squad member to receive national team attention this season, with Tony Mikhael having served for the Lebanon U-23 national team in October, while Akio’s league form at the time saw him earn player of the month plaudits. One imagines that Andrew Jean-Baptiste could return to Haiti duty next season when he returns from injury, too.
It remains to be seen whether Akio will remain with the Winnipeg-based club going into the next calendar year: it appears that his contract was solely for the 2021 season, though this deal may include options not disclosed to the pubic. In any event, Valour are likely keen to sign a new deal with South Sudan’s most recent call-up.