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Somalia shows spirited debut at AFCON U-17 despite loss to Algeria

Saturday April 29, 2023


Algiers (HOL) - In a historic moment for Somali football, the U-17 national team, known as the Ocean Stars, made their debut on the prestigious TotalEnergies AFCON U-17 stage, facing off against host nation Algeria. Despite a 2-0 loss to the Desert Foxes, the young Somali side displayed remarkable potential and resilience throughout the match.

Algerian captain Moslem Anatouf proved to be the difference-maker in the highly anticipated opening match of the AFCON U17 tournament, confidently scoring two vital goals that ultimately led his team to victory. In the 22nd minute, Anatouf displayed his excellent reading of the game, intercepting a backpass from Somali defender Abdirahman Ahmed before dribbling past the goalkeeper and neatly tucking the ball into the back of the net. This well-timed finish broke the deadlock and put the Algerians in front. In the second half, it took only six minutes for the hosts to double their tally, with Anatouf once again showing his agility and instinctive positioning by sliding through at the near post to connect to a corner on the volley and score his second goal in the 51st minute.

In contrast, Somalia grappled with missed opportunities and an inability to convert their chances into goals. A prime example was Ahmed Abdalla's thunderbolt attempt from near midfield in the first half, which came agonizingly close to equalizing the score, but the Algerian keeper Mastias Hammache made an excellent finger-tip save.

Somalia's debut performance showcased their potential to become strong contenders in future matches. Their spirited performance, particularly after conceding goals, highlighted their ability to compete at this level. However, the absence of friendly matches before the tournament may have hindered their performance, as they showed some nerves in the opening minutes. This lack of experience could have impacted their ability to settle into the match quickly and adapt to the competition's intensity.

Somalia's standout striker Abdihafid Mohamed was sidelined due to a contentious age verification issue, which may have weakened Somalia's offensive capabilities. His absence may have impacted the game's outcome, raising questions about how the Somali team might have fared with him on the field.

Algeria's experience in international contests appears to have played a significant role in their win. Having participated in several friendly matches leading up to the tournament and boasting a wealth of experience from previous competitions, Algeria was better prepared for the challenges of the AFCON U-17. Their tactical awareness and mental fortitude proved decisive in securing the victory over the tournament newcomers.

The close match stats between Algeria and Somalia suggest that the AFCON U-17 competition could be more evenly matched than anticipated, promising an exciting and unpredictable tournament. The high-pressure environment and expectations from the home crowd may have put additional pressure on the Algerian players, but they managed to handle it well, delivering a victory in their opening match. It will be interesting to see how they fare as the tournament continues and the stakes get even higher.

Somalia's upcoming group-stage match against Congo on Tuesday will be a crucial test for the debutants as they seek their first points in the competition. Coming off a spirited performance against host nation Algeria, the Ocean Stars will look to build on their newfound experience and channel their determination into a more favourable result. With three AFCON U17 appearances under their belt and a best finish of third place in 2011, Congo, who kick off their tournament against Senegal on Sunday, will present a formidable challenge for the Somali side. Somalia must focus on addressing the areas of weakness exposed in their opening match, including tightening their defence and capitalizing on scoring opportunities, if they are to make a statement against a seasoned opponent like Congo. As both teams vie for a stronger position in the group stage, the Somalia-Congo match will likely showcase the tactical adjustments and growth each side has made since their first encounters in the tournament.

If you missed the match you can watch it in its entirety below: 


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