Somalia moving towards brighter future

Somalia moving towards
brighter future

image

Hampered by a combination of political
unrest, a lack of funding and poor
infrastructure, Somalia have entered
qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations
only once, in 1974.
They will again be absent when
qualifying kicks off in June for the 2017
tournament – only one of two countries,
alongside Eriitrea, out of the 54 affiliated
to the Confederation of African Football
to miss out.
But Somalia Football Association
president Abdiqani Said believes change
is on the horizon.
“Maybe in two-three years, we will be
there because now we are improving,” he
told BBC Sport. “Soon we will finish our
stadium, which is under construction.
“In two years’ time, we hope to be part of
the Nations Cup but football means funds
and stability, so we will play when we
have good stability, facilities and funds.
“Somalia has been suffering for a long
time. We cannot compare to most of the
countries in Arica which have good
stability and a government that can assist
them with financial expenses.
“I feel really bad, am feeling pain and it
is not good in my heart that we are out of
the 2017 Nations Cup. But next time I
hope we will be part of 2019.”
Somalia used to play its matches in the
Mogadishu Stadium, but the country’s
biggest arena (once capable of holding
65,000) has been commandeered by the
African Union (AU) after many years of
being under the occupation of the
Islamist militant group al-Shabab.
The AU is attempting to keep the peace in
a country which descended into civil war
in 1991.
With considerable assistance from
football’s world governing body Fifa,
Somalia’s FA laid a new artificial turf at
the Banadir stadium in northern
Mogadishu in 2013.
Work is now ongoing to make the 15,000-
capacity stadium ready to host
international matches.
“We are hoping it will be finished in June-
July,” Said, a former FA secretary-general,
explained. “It depends on the construction
company. We will see.”
After Fifa hosted a development course in
Mogadishu two years ago, its first there
in over a quarter of a century, Somalia
also has plans to build a second venue.
This will be part of a new technical centre
at Mogadishu’s College University
Stadium.
Despite the challenges, the Somali FA has
worked tirelessly to try to get the
country’s football off the ground.
The first league campaign in seven years
kicked off in late 2013, when thousands of
fans attended a match at the Banadir
Stadium for the first time in over two
decades.
Eight teams took part as years of
assistance from Fifa, who have helped
with training the coaches and developing
the grassroots game, finally paid off.
The world body initially helped with the
redevelopment of the Banadir Stadium in
2006, only for the venue to be badly
damaged because of Somalia’s ongoing
civil conflict.
The country’s league now has 10 teams.
Somalia may not have contested Africa’s
biggest sporting event for some time but
it has entered qualifying for every World
Cup since the 2002 edition.
When it attempted to qualify for the 2014
World Cup, a team nicknamed the Ocean
Stars played its one and only home match
in Djibouti – holding Ethiopia to a goalless
draw before losing the return leg 5-0.
And a team ranked 206th out of 208 Fifa
members is already preparing for
qualifiers for the next finals – in Russia in
three years’ time.
“The national team is already in
training,” said Said. “Every country has a
dream of being at the World Cup (SOURCE ) BBC BY BASHIR HASHI YUSUF

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