Somalia’s National football squad [the Ocean Stars], will camp in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for a month ahead of their first leg of the preliminary round of 2018 World cup qualifiers in October.
On Tuesday, the team flew to Addis Ababa, where they will play against Niger in a World Cup qualifier clash on October 9, while the second leg will be played in Niamey on13th of October.
Government officials, Somali FA president, his deputy and members of the executive committee have seen off the team at Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International airport on Tuesday morning.
Earlier, the team received ministerial boost during a fare-well ceremony organized for them at Lido Sea Food restaurant in the Lido Beach resort, south east of the capital Mogadishu.
Somali FA president, Abdiqani Said Arab, who first addressed at the farewell ceremony, thanked the federal government of Somalia for its moral boost. The president said that it was a very great encouragement for the SFF and the national team members that key government ministers attended the national team farewell ceremony to show the government’s commitment to football.
He thanked the Ethiopian FA president and his executive committee for accepting Somalia’s request to host is home game in Addis Ababa, as the country was not yet ready for hosting international competitions.
“Our Ethiopian FA brothers will welcome our team in Addis Ababa where we will use as our home venue, because for a number of reasons Somalia is not yet ready for world class competitions, but we hope that we will be able to host international competitions at home in the near future” SFF president, Abdiqani Said Arab told the ceremony, before handing over the microphone to the minster for youth and sport, Mr. Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan.
The minister said that the attendance of key government ministers in the farewell ceremony was an indication that Somali government was committed to football and will continue supporting the country’s sport to help it develop.
“You are not only a team of 20 people or so, but bear in mind that you are the whole Somalia brought in one team, because you will represent all Somali people living in and outside the country” the minister told the national team members during his address at the ceremony.
On his side, the minister of internal affairs and federalism, Mr. Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein Odowaa, told the Ocean stars to engage in a good teamwork adding that his government was giving much priority to sport in particularly to football which is the most populous event in the country and had played a big role in peace building and public integration in the country.
“I am sure you can score a victory, if you believe that you can do it and what we want you is to come back with a good approach” the minister of internal affairs and federalism, Mr. Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein Odowaa, told the Ocean Stars.
The team will engage in four weeks training sessions in Addis Ababa before their first clash against Niger on 9th of October. Four Somali professional footballers who play in Europe will join the team in Addis Ababa next week.