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Ocean Stars Rising: An underdog's journey at the AFCON U-17 tournament

Saturday April 22, 2023

Embarking on an epic voyage through uncharted waters, the Somali U-17 team defies all odds as they take center stage in the AFCON tournament's Group A, ready to etch their names in the annals of football history. 

Mogadishu (HOL) - As anticipation builds for the TotalEnergies Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament, an inspiring underdog story is taking shape amidst the white sands of the Horn of Africa. The Somali U-17 team, making their debut in this esteemed competition, faces a challenging Group A lineup against host nation Algeria, Senegal, and Congo. Join us as we take a closer look at this David and Goliath tale, as the Ocean Stars prepare to take on host nation Algeria, Senegal, and Congo.

Leading the Somali U-17 team's quest is Coach Nur Mohamed Amin, a man with an illustrious career as both a former Somali international player and an esteemed coach in Ethiopia. His unwavering commitment and visionary approach have been instrumental in guiding the Somali U-17 team to the AFCON stage.

Although considered underdogs, it would be a mistake to underestimate the Somali team. They boast a wealth of promising talent, with local prodigy Abdihafid Mohamed Ali working wonders on the field in the Somali Premier League for Elman, and foreign-based players Idriss Abdiwahaab of IFK Uddevalla and Abdiaziz Abdirahman of Toronto FC joining the squad. These players will be essential to Somalia's campaign in this talented group.

Facing them is the formidable Algerian squad, led by Rezki Remmane, who seeks to capitalize on their 2022 Under-17 Arab Cup victory. Playing on home turf, Algeria presents a tough challenge with rising stars Sami Marzouk of Lille and Anatov Muslim of the Algerian Football Academy.

The Senegalese juggernaut, a dominating force in African football, poses another daunting hurdle for the Ocean Stars. Coached by Saliou Serigne Dia, the Young Teranga Cubs are eager to add to Senegal's impressive collection of accolades. With exceptional players like forward Amara Diouf and defender Alpha Toure, their prowess is undeniable.

Finally, we have the ambitious Congo, led by Italian tactician Fabrizio Cesana, whose aspirations center on a top-four finish and a World Cup qualification. With players like Joseph Archange Ndzoukou and Kaelas Pounga, Congo is set to be a strong contender in Group A.

Somalia's debut in the AFCON U-17 tournament is nothing short of a Cinderella story for the nation's football development. Though they face a difficult battle in Group A, their presence is a testament to the progress made by Somali football.

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 Ocean Stars may be considered the underdogs in this tournament, but they will undoubtedly give their all in pursuit of glory. Regardless of the outcome, this historic moment heralds a new dawn for Somali football. After all, an underdog story is the very essence of the beautiful game.


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