Tuesday May 2, 2023
Coach Nur Amin. CREDIT: CAF
Algiers (HOL) - In the vibrant city of Algiers, an enthralling match awaits us as Somalia and Congo prepare to lock horns in their second Group A encounter of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations. Two teams, both bearing the scars of defeat from their opening games, now face a pivotal moment in their quest for glory.
Nur Mohamed Amin, the Somali coach, exudes a quiet confidence despite his team's lack of experience on the international stage. For Somalia, this is uncharted territory. Yet, Amin's charges are no strangers to adversity; their stunning performance at the CECAFA regional qualifiers in Ethiopia last year stands as a testament to their undaunted spirit.
"We will do everything we can to win. Our plan is to perform excellently in that match. Our players do not have enough experience and expertise, but we have the determination to do our best. We have a spirit that drives us. We will try to organize our team in a good way, and we hope we will win," the coach said.
Abdirahman Bahur, the Canada-based forward, echoes his coach's sentiments. He speaks of the team's desire to cast Somalia in a positive light and to honour their supporters by performing to the best of their abilities. Though they may be new to this grand stage, the Somali players are eager to learn and evolve.
"We watched our match against Algeria and analyzed it. We played against a good opponent who knew how to keep the ball well. We have picked some lessons from that game and hope to improve against Congo. We will prepare the best way and hopefully win," Bahur said.
Abdirahman Bahur, Somalia, FW. CREDIT. CAF
He added, "We want to give a good image of Somalia and represent all those who support us well. There are some players in the team who have never played at international level, and this is their opportunity. We will support them to pick all the necessary experience they need."
On the other side of the pitch, Congo's Fabrizio Cesana, a coach with a wealth of experience, calls upon his players to rise to the challenge and claim victory against their Somali opponents. Cesana sees his team's mental fortitude as their greatest weapon.
"Our match against Somalia will be key and decisive. We must win this match to record points and intensify our efforts to achieve that," the tactician said as he spoke during the pre-match press conference at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers.
Drawing upon the lessons learned from their match against Senegal, Congo will need every ounce of wisdom and determination to secure the win.
"This will be a tough match, and I told the players that we lost our opening match to a team considered one of the great in Africa, and we should not keep our heads down. We made some mistakes, but we should learn and move forward."Congo U17 Coach Fabrizio Cesana. Credit. CAF
Digne Pounga, Congo's talented midfielder, shares his coach's optimism but is under no illusions about the difficulties that lie ahead. He acknowledges the shortcomings of their performance against Senegal and vows to take the positives from that game into the upcoming showdown with Somalia.
As the two teams meet for the first time in their histories, the outcome will have significant implications for both teams' chances of reaching the last eight. Having shown flashes of brilliance in their debut loss
against Algeria, the Somali Ocean Stars will be eager to secure their first points in the competition. Congo, no strangers to the U17 Africa Cup stage, must draw upon their experience and the memory of their third-place finish in 2011 to overcome the challenge posed by the Somali newcomers.
The Somalia-Congo match will likely showcase the tactical adjustments and growth each side has made since their first encounters in the tournament. Can Somalia's determination outshine Congo's experience? Only time will tell as the two teams prepare to embark on a battle for redemption. Kickoff is at 10:00 pm local time, and viewers can watch the game live here or on Hiiraan Online.