Saturday, February 20, 2016
MOGADISHU (HOL) – It was not the usual day when Somalia’s national team which regularly returned home with humiliating defeats walked through the airport unnoticed, but instead the return of the younger under-11 national players was more sensational with Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud led their hero’s welcome at the airport.
As they got off the plane, the young players were met by president Hassan Sheikh who has shaken hand with each player before he met them at the airport’s VIP lounge.
“We are exceptionally happy with your impressive performance – you are a good symbol for our country,” he told the players on Thursday.
“The government will do its utmost effort to improve the country’s sports.” He said.
The squad was later escorted by a presidential motorcade before the Mogadishu mayor invited them for a banquet dinner attended by ministers, MPs and top officials who hailed the young players as ‘stunning’.
The team was held in draws in three matches it played with UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar which hosted the cup.
The draws mattered all the more because no national team-level had ever avoided defeats in three consecutive matches since 1990s when warlords overthrew the central Somalia, purposely suppressing sports just before hardly started restoring sports few years ago.
Having eliminated from the ongoing Jeem cup in Doha, the young national team had however avoided conceding any defeat, with thousands of fans praised them for stopping better-advanced and sponsored teams unlike the older national team which routinely returned with disappointing defeats.
The excellent performance by Somalia’s young national team has united Somalis around the world in football pride, a positive news for the horn of Africa nation which has grown weary with news of their older national team returning with embarrassing losses each year.