22nd March 2017
Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying, Preliminary Round 1st Leg
El Hadj Hassan Gouled Aptidon Stadium, Djibouti City, Djibouti
Djibouti 2-0 South Sudan
It was a decade in the waiting, but Djibouti finally found that winning feeling once more to see off South Sudan in this first leg clash, sealing their rise from the bottom of the world rankings.
Having gone nearly ten years, and 34 matches, since tasting victory when beating Somalia 1-0 in late 2007, this success will be richly savoured by Djibouti, but they shouldn’t get carried away. They have every chance of securing a place in the main group stage by repeating the feat in South Sudan next week. Could they go on an unprecedented two match winning streak? I’m getting carried away…
Coming into this match on the back of two contrasting clashes with Burundi recently, Djibouti parted company with their Tunisian coach Noureddine Gharsalli to replace him with Mauritian Moussa Ghoussam. The more positive performance in the second of those losses to Burundi seems to have set the tone for an upturn in fortunes which was carried over into this match.
A goalless opening period was followed by an impressive home performance after the break. The first goal came from a free-kick wide on Djibouti’s left, which was whipped in to the near post. A woefully unmarked Adbi Idleh Hamza flicked the ball home to make it 1-0, to the delight of the smattering of home fans present.
Only a few minutes later there was cause for even greater celebration when Mohamed Salem Breik was put through following a deft ball over the South Sudan defence. He ran clear to score, sending Djibouti into uncharted territory with a reversal of the scoreline when the two sides last met in the 2015 CECAFA Cup.
The final whistle saw understandably joyous celebrations, but there is more work to do next week. And this performance suggests they have the potential for more celebrations then, but it won’t be easy.
Step this way for highlights…sadly missing the second goal:
Djibouti won’t climb off the bottom of the rankings until April’s edition, so we will still enjoy their second leg contest in Juba next week as an official Worst in the World fixture, but their departure from the club is assured.
In the other preliminary round clashes, Madagascar won 1-0 away in Sao Tome e Principe thanks to an own goal. Comoros take on Mauritius in the final tie tomorrow.