Friday May 5, 2023
Algiers (HOL) - As the Somali U17 national team marks their continental football debut at any age level, anticipation and excitement build ahead of their crucial showdown with the already-qualified Senegal in the final Group A match of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations. Slated for Friday at the Constantine, the game presents a golden opportunity for Somalia to secure a historic berth in the knockout stages, asserting their position as formidable contenders on the continental stage.
Somalia's head coach, Nur Mohamed, speaks passionately about the team's unwavering commitment: "Our determination to leave everything on the pitch is strong, and we are focused on our collective strengths and abilities." He also emphasizes the immense pride and sense of achievement their qualification has brought to the Somali people., adding, "We came here to compete, not to participate. We respect our opponents who have already qualified, and whether or not they rest players, we are focusing on what we can do as a team. We are hopeful of winning and reaching the quarter-finals." Goalkeeper Abdikadir Mohamed, a standout player in the tournament, supports his coach's sentiments, stating, "We are prepared to give our all in the upcoming match."
With a tie against Congo, Somalia earned its first-ever AFCON tournament point despite losing to Algeria in the tournament opener. As they gear up for their match against Senegal, the young Ocean Stars are fully aware of the task ahead. Despite the challenges faced by the team, including limited preparation time, Nur Mohamed remains optimistic about the team's growth and potential. "All our players are students, and we selected them from school tournaments. They did not have the chance to play friendly matches, and we were just together for three months for preparation," the tactician notes. "This is huge for Somali football and the people back home; they are proud of us," he adds.
As the Somali squad prepares to battle the mighty Senegal, their tale of courage and determination captivates the hearts and minds of football enthusiasts worldwide. In the words of their head coach, Nur Mohamed, "We are not looking back at where we are coming from. We are looking forward to where we are going."