Friday October 14, 2022
The national U-17 teams of South Sudan and Somalia have qualified for the TotalEnergies U-17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2023.
Somalia booked the ticket first after shocking the regional reigning champions Uganda 8-7 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the first semi final in the qualifiers for the Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA) played at the Abebe Bikila Stadium in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Wednesday.Uganda Cubs, who won the title in 2020 when the tournament was last held in Rwanda took the lead after 41 minutes when defender Jamal Ssemwogere finished off a rebound past Somalia’s goalkeeper Abdikadir Mohamed.
But after two minutes Somalia’s star player Abdihafid Abdi who also scored in their 1-0 win against hosts Ethiopia in the group stage leveled matters for his team.
The two teams created several scoring chances in the second half, but failed to find the goals. While all eight Somalia players converted their penalties, Uganda’s leading scorer in the tournament with three goals Arafat Nkoola missed his penalty.
“I thank God for guidning us to the AFCON 2023. But we are still determined to win the title,” said a happy Somalia coach Nur Mohamed Amin after the match.
Hamuza Lutalo, the Uganda Cubs coach said his team failed to utilize the many chances. “With penalties any team can win,” added Lutalo.
Yusuf Ahmed, the Somalia Football Federation (SFF) general Secretary told CAFonline that they are happy to qualify for their first ever AFCON event. “This is history being made and we are so proud of the team,” added an emotional Ahmed.
In the second semi final Jonathan Ajoung gave South Sudan the lead after 36 minutes with a well placed shot past Tanzania’s goalkeeper Alexander Mwakapambika.
The Tanzania team continued to dominate play, but the South Sudan defending line were up to the task. After 71 minutes substitute Yassin Manage leveled matters for Tanzania with a hard low shot.
During the penalties South Sudan’s Felix Marial missed the first opportunity to put his team ahead, but all his other four teammates converted. Tanzania’s Adolf Hamisi hit the woodwork, while Manage had his penalty saved.
“We are happy to make history today because South Sudan is a young country which is only 11 years old,” said a happy South Sudan head coach Bilal Felix Komoyangi after the final.
Kim Poulsen, the Tanzania coach said his players had failed to focus well to be able to convert their chances. “We failed to take our chances and when it comes to penalties anyone can win,” added Poulsen.
The two teams will now face off in the final on Saturday, while Uganda and Tanzania will face-off to determine who finishes third and fourth.