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New African soccer boss open to Somalia hosting games again

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MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalia could host international games again for the first time in nearly 30 years after the new head of African soccer said on Tuesday he’s open to the idea.

Confederation of African Football president Ahmad invited Somalia to start by organizing friendly games against neighbour Djibouti in the Somali capital Mogadishu. Mogadishu last hosted a senior international in 1988.

Somalia has been wracked by violence and chaos since the early 1990s, first because of a civil war and now deadly attacks by homegrown Islamist extremist group al-Shabab.

But the situation has improved.

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed used Ahmad’s visit to request his country be allowed to host international soccer again.

Ahmad, who beat longtime African soccer boss Issa Hayatou in an election last month, made a two-day visit to Somalia on Monday and Tuesday, his first official trip as CAF president.

“Holding friendly matches in Mogadishu will help a lot to encourage sports and help Somalia regain its sports glory and I have asked Djibouti and Somalia to start playing the first friendly matches,” Ahmad said.

Ahmad also promised to lobby Somali officials so that Mogadishu’s biggest stadium can be used for soccer again. The 33,000-seat stadium currently acts as a base for African Union troops, who are in the country to help fight al-Shabab.

Sports authorities in Somalia have tried a number of times to get the stadium back.

“I have met Somali leaders and they agreed to have the stadium handed over so that sports can be played there again,” Ahmad said. “And I shall push this further with relevant authorities.”

Somalia has never qualified for the World Cup or African Cup of Nations but soccer is easily the country’s most popular sport.

“Somalia is a football country and has no history with any other sport,” said Mohamed, who is also a new leader having been elected in February.

While Somalia has never made it to the top tournaments, it plays regularly in the EastAfrican regional tournament. For decades, the team has been forced to play its “home” games in neutral countries like Ethiopia and Djibouti because of security fears in Mogadishu.

Sports

Mohamed Salah of Egypt crowned 2017 CAF African Player of the Year

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Egyptian international Mohamed Salah has been crowned the 2017 African Player of the Year by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) at a ceremony in Accra, Ghana.

The player beat off competition from Liverpool teammate and Senegal international, Sadio Mane and 2015 winner Pierre Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon and German side, Borussia Dortmund.

Mane came in second, whiles Aubameyang was third. Sala’s win capped a good evening for Egyptian football as the national team won “Team of the Year” and coach Hector Cuper was named “Coach of the Year.”

The full list of winners on the night is as follows:
Egypt and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah as 2017 African Player of the Year
2nd place – Sadio mane of Senegal and Liverpool
3rd place – Pierre Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon and Dortmund.
Platinum award to Ghana president Nana Akufo-Addo & Liberia president-elect George Weah
Female footballer of the year: Assisat Oshoola of Nigeria
National team of the year: Pharaohs of Egypt
Young African footballer of the year: Patson Daka (Zambia)
Coach of the Year: Hector Cuper of Egypt
Club of the year: Wydad Athletic Club of Morocco
Football Leader of the Year: Ahmed Yahya.
Women’s National Team Of The Year 2017: Bayana Bayana (South Africa)
CAF Legends Award: Ibrahim Sunday (Ghana)

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Somalia once again to host international soccer matches

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VOA — The Somali Football Federation (SFF) has announced plans to host international games beginning next year because of improving security, the head of the body has announced.

President of the SFF, Abdiqani Said Arab, says the time has come for Somalia to organize home games in the country’s soccer stadiums in 2018.

“Due to the betterment of the security situation in Somalia we have decided to stage our home games at home,” Arab said in a statement.

“The Somali people have the right to watch their national team play at home and we have to make that happen now that the country is going ahead.”

Arab said his federation will first invite East African soccer national teams to play friendly matches with the Somali national team.

He said staging friendly matches will be followed by hosting regional soccer tournaments, such as the CECAFA (Council for East African and Central Africa Football). SFF has not released the dates and fixtures of international matches to be played at home for next year.

Somalia hosted its last international match in Mogadishu in 1988. Following the collapse of the state in 1991, the Somalia national soccer team was forced to play its home games abroad in a neutral country, mainly in the region, like Djibouti and Ethiopia, denying it the all-important home advantage that other teams enjoy against opponents.

The Confederation of African Football chief Ahmad Ahmad approved Somalia’s plan to host international soccer games when he visited Mogadishu in April.

Somalia soccer has made steady development over the years despite the country’s difficulties.

In April 2012, a suicide bomber killed both the head of the Somali Olympic Committee, Aden Yabarow Wiish, and the president of Somali Football Federation, Said Mohamed Nur. But in December that same year, the SFF completed installing an artificial turf at Mogadishu stadium. Two years later in December 2015, the soccer body had showed the first-ever live stream of a football game on TV.

And in August this year, it was a bright night for Mogadishu as the first soccer game was played at night in more than 30 years.

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Minnesota

Wayzata’s Khalid Hussein is the Star Tribune Metro Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year

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The Wayzata cross-country team motto — “With the end in mind” — fit senior Khalid Hussein like a pair of broken-in shoes.

A lingering knee injury diminished Hussein’s offseason training and even sidelined him for the Trojans’ season-opening meet. But he returned to form as the linchpin of a deep, talented lineup. He led Wayzata’s state championship defense and became the Trojans’ fourth individual champ in the past seven seasons. He extended a special senior season into December by taking 10th at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland.

Hussein’s efforts earned him the Star Tribune’s first Metro Boys’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year award.

“I was ready for the moment, “ Hussein said of his performance at the Class 2A state meet held Nov. 4 at St. Olaf College in Northfield. He won by overtaking Roseville’s Acer Iverson for good in the final 800 meters. As a junior, Hussein lost in the last 100 meters.

“When Iverson made his big move, I thought about last year,” Hussein said. “But I told myself to stay patient and to trust in myself and my training. So it felt good to know that no one in the state could out-kick me.”

Hussein covered the 5,000-meter course in 15 minutes, 22.6 seconds, a time that ranks second among Trojans’ champions of recent vintage. Josh Thorson, Connor Olson and Jaret Carpenter — runners who inspired Hussein — also won titles since 2010 and only Olson (15:17.1) was faster. Wayzata coach Mark Popp hailed Hussein as “probably the most talented” of the quartet.

“It’s pretty cool to uphold the tradition,” said Hussein, who has committed to the Gophers.

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