International football returns to Somalia after 30-years hiatus

The Banadir Stadium in Mogadishu will host an international friendly as Somalia announces a return of international football on its soil after 30-years hiatus.

The Somali Football Federation (SFF) confirms that its under-20 team Ocean Stars will host Eritrea’s in a friendly match in Mogadishu on 16 February.

“In the near future we could host a Cecafa (regional) tournament,” said Abdiqani Said Arab, the SFF president.

“Now that we have peace that has returned to the country we are happy that finally we shall be hosting an international match after 30 years.”

The match at the Benadir Stadium will be the first international football game at any level in Somalia for more than 30 years.

Security concerns mean Somalia have had to play at neutral venues or away from home.

Impacts of long lasting wars placed the country in this difficult position but Football officials in the country are now keen to give the country a new beginning.

Somalia is ranked 204 in the latest FIFA rankings, not bad from a nation that is struggling to rejuvenate her football.

This is coming at a time when the AFCON has been increased to 24 nation’s.Though Somalia wouldn’t make the 2019 Football Jamboree in Egypt, they have a chance to start preparing for Cameroon 2021, and there is no better way to do it other than invest in their youths teams (U20).

Somalia’s highest FIFA ranking was recorded in 1995, when they were ranked 158th in the world.
If the country is ever going to get back to it’s best then this moves are the right moves.

Arab, also the Vice President of East and Central African regional body, Cecafa, said they will start with hosting teams from the region first before opening up to the rest.

“Our people in Somalia are hungry to watch an international match,” he explained.

The country last hosted an international in 1988 when Somalia played Mauritius in an Olympic qualifier in Mogadishu.

Somali soccer has made steady development over the years despite the country’s instability.

Since 2015 the Somali FA installed an artificial turf at Mogadishu stadium and also played a league game – for the first time in over 30 years – in 2017.

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