Somali clubs back in African continental action after 29 years

A Somali Football Federation sign
The Somali Football Federation has entered two clubs into continental club competitions for the first time since 1990

Somali football returns to African continental club competition for the first time in 29 years this weekend,

Mogadishu City Club compete in the second string Confederation Cup against Zanzibar's Malindi in the first round, first leg match of the competition.

They were drawn at home in the first leg but cannot play in Somalia because of continuing security problems.

They have opted to play both games in Zanzibar in order to cut costs.

Somali champions Dekedaha take on Egypt's Zamalek in the African Champions League but the opening game of that tie has been delayed until August 16th.

They will also play both legs of their tie at the home of their opponents.

There is nevertheless an air of excitement across Somalia as their clubs take a step up after decades of just competing in regional CECAFA competitions.

"People are really excited about moving up to take this stage to participate," Somali Football Association president Abdiqani Said Arab told the BBC.

"We are being encouraged to continue even if our teams lose. The most important thing is to participate,"

Said Arab and his executive made the decision earlier this year to enter the competitions after consulting with clubs.

"There has been a lot of encouragement for the clubs and appreciation of the football association's decision," he added.

"It's good for the clubs to gain the experience and to test to measure their standard of football.

"The main things is to take the step to participate against the top clubs in Africa."

The next step would be to host games at home and the FA boss hopes that might come as soon as next year.

After decades of civil strife, he points to Mogadishu beginning to return to normal.

"There are several major airlines now flying into the city," he cites as an example.

"There is also rehabilitation of the national stadium that the government is undertaking and we hope to have a home match there soon."

The last Somali club to participate in the old style Champions Cup was MBC, eliminated at the first hurdle in 1990 by St Louis from the Seychelles.

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