22nd April 2018
Championship of African Nations Qualifying, Preliminary Round 1st Leg
El Hadj Hassan Gouled Aptidon Stadium, Djibouti City, Djibouti
Somalia 1-2 South Sudan
Somalia sadly failed to cling on to a draw in the opening leg of their Championship of African Nations preliminary round qualifier against South Sudan. The tournament is for players based domestically, which may make a difference to the stronger national sides in Africa, but has little bearing on the squads of the likes of Somalia.
In the match played in Djibouti due to the Somalian Civil War, South Sudan struck first as early as the sixth minute through James Moga, and a sense of inevitability set in for The Ocean Stars, as the Somali national team are nicknamed.
But they held firm throughout the remainder of the first half, and came back out after the break with a renewed vigour. They were rewarded for their endeavour within minutes of the restart thanks to an equaliser from Abas Amin Mohamed. Mohamed struck a fine effort from outside the penalty area after some neat approach play from the Ocean Stars, and the goal was celebrated with quite some gusto. It’s not often that a team such as Somalia get to celebrate a goal at all, let alone a fine hit like this one. At this point the prospect of a very encouraging draw was firmly on the cards.
That dream was a possibility for all of about a minute. That was all the time it took for South Sudan to restore their advantage, with Leon Uso Khamis putting the South Sudanese back in front at the first opportunity after a cross wasn’t dealt with by the Somali defence. It might be fair to say that the goal they scored, and the subsequent celebration, left the Somali players slightly unfocused on the task at hand.
Try as they might, Somalia were unable to come back again against what is clearly a superior opposition, if only marginally so. The tie is delicately poised ahead of next week’s second leg in Juba, but there is the niggling fear that this was an opportunity missed for Somalia to sneak off the bottom of the world rankings. At least they get another opportunity to do so next week.
Highlights of the rather short period when Somalia scored their fine equaliser and South Sudan got back ahead can be seen here: