Somalia has qualified to a continental championship for the first time ever in its history, with their junior side earning a debut slot for the TotalEnergies Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations.
Somalia’s young Ocean Stars progressed to the tourney in Algeria after winning the CECAFA regional qualifiers, where they beat South Sudan 3-1 in the final.
Heading into the tournament, the debutants, who look to put Somali football on the continental and world map, have been drawn in a tough Group A that also has hosts Algeria, Senegal and Congo.
Match schedule (All matches at 8pm local time)
- April 29 – Algeria vs Somalia, Nelson Mandela Stadium
- May 2 – Congo vs Somalia, Nelson Mandela Stadium
- May 5 – Somalia vs Senegal, Mohamed Hamlaoui Stadium, Constantine
The team is coached by former Somali international Nur Mohamed Amin. The 63 year old had a long playing career that included 14 years with the national team and majorly played for Mogadishu based club MBC.
Amin who has also had an extended coaching career in Ethiopia has been with the Under-17 side for the last two years and his name will forever be written in the books of history after guiding the team for their first ever Continental qualification.
History in the competition
This is Somalia’s first ever qualification to the tournament. They have previously been punching bags in the region, but last year at the qualifiers, they showed their growth and improvement with worthy victories including against erstwhile winners Uganda in the semis.
Players to watch
The Somali team is not devoid of talent and among the players to watch is Abdi Hafid Mohamed Ali who plays for local club Elman. The midfielder was one of the most influential players in the qualifiers where he scored thrice to help the team clinch the CECAFA ticket.
The team also has some foreign-based talent to watch out for, including midfielder Idriss Abdiwahaab who plays for Swedish club IFK Uddevalla.
Canadian based forward Abdiaziz Abdirahman who plays for Toronto FC has also been named in the Somali team that heads to Algiers and will be one to keep an eye on.