South Sudan, Somalia shock giants to qualify for U17 AFCON

The top two teams in the CECAFA region qualify for the AFCON
Both South Sudan and Somalia progressed from penalties
Kenya did not participate due to its current suspension by FIFA

South Sudan and Somalia have both brought new order in the Council of East and Central Africa (CECAFA) region after they shocked regulars to qualify for their first ever major tournaments in any age grade.

The two sides have qualified for next year’s Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations to be staged in Algeria, after earning slots in the final of the CECAFA regional qualifiers which are being played in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The two each progressed to the final after winning on post-match penalties, after 1-1 draws in regulation time.

Somalia shocked defending champions Uganda, beating them 8-7 on spotkicks while South Sudan, the newest member of CAF and CECAFA, beat Tanzania 4-3 on spotkicks.

Happy to have made history

“I am happy and delighted that we have made history to qualify the Under-17 team for the AFCON. It has been hard work from the players and I am delighted. One phase is done now we have to focus on the final and my target is to win the Cup,” said Nur Mohamed Amin, the Somalia head coach.

“We gave our best and I am glad our best has given us good results. We will represent CECAFA well,” he added.

Somalia players line up before their match against Uganda. PHOTO/CECAFA

It was a massive result for the two sides, who were erstwhile regarded as minnows in regional and continental football. In all age grades, none of the two sides has ever played a Continental tournament and this might be the start of the birth of a new order.

The Somali boys were the first to book a slot in the final after seeing off Uganda’s Hippos 8-7 on penalties.

Uganda miss chances

In regulation time, Jamal Ssemwogere gave Uganda Cubs the lead after 41 minutes, while Abdihafid Abdi leveled matters for Somalia two minutes later. Uganda dominated the game and will be guilty of many missed opportunities in regulation time.

Somalia defended well and had the confidence boost when heading to spot-kicks.

On penalties, all of Somalia players scored from the spot, including their goalkeeper who scored the winning kick after Uganda’s Arafat Nkoola had missed.

In the second semi-final Jonathan Ajoung netted after 36 minutes for South Sudan, but Tanzania made it 1-1 after 71 minutes with a goal netted by substitute Yassin Manage.

On penalties, South Sudan converted four kicks against Tanzania’s three, with Manange, who had scored in regulation time missing as well as Adolf Hamisi.

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