- Somalia received their first FIFA World Cup qualifying match in September 2019
- That victory over Zimbabwe was not enough to achieve the subsequent spherical
- It did, nonetheless, have a enormous impression, in keeping with defender Mohamud Ali
“Don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion,” mentioned boxing legend Muhammad Ali. One of Somali’s defenders, who created a little little bit of footballing historical past by contributing to his nation’s first-ever FIFA World Cup™ qualifying victory (1-0 versus Zimbabwe in September 2019), has made that line his private motto. His identify? Mohamud Ali.
“It’s obviously quite a unique name, but I’m very proud of it,” the participant in query advised FIFA.com. “He’s a sporting icon. Of course, people have often made jokes about my name, but overall it’s not been too tough to bear – I would never compare myself to such a legend anyway. And our two sports are very different. That said, I’m a winner, just like Muhammad Ali. A winning attitude is part of my DNA.”
Icing on the cake
The 26-12 months-outdated centre-again proved precisely that round a 12 months in the past, with the eyes of Africa on him and his crew. Impressive all through the historic overcome Zimbabwe, Ali, who has earned seven caps to date, was one of many Ocean Stars’ finest gamers on the day, and was deservedly named Man of the Match.
“I don’t know if it’s the best performance I’ve ever put in, but it’s definitely the best result I’ve ever been involved in!” he recalled. “The atmosphere, the stakes, the intensity: I’ve got goosebumps just thinking about it, because I’d never experienced anything quite like it. I didn’t play too badly, but it was a team effort, really. Honestly, all I remember is the win. My Man-of-the-Match award was just a bonus.”
Representing my nation in a World Cup qualifying marketing campaign was already improbable. Winning a match was completely unbelievable!
Somalia didn’t sit on their laurels after this landmark success. In the second leg, in Harare, they’d a Zimbabwe crew that was positioned 111th within the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking – 85 spots larger than the Somalis – towards the ropes for a lot of the match, however their hopes of advancing to the second spherical of qualifying for Qatar 2022 had been dealt a knockout blow within the closing 13 minutes, and they’d finally bow out 3-2 on mixture.
“On paper, there was a big gulf between Somalia and Zimbabwe,” mentioned Ali. “But we competed with them and pushed them right up until stoppage time of the second leg. It was obviously disappointing that we didn’t get through to the next round, but we were proud of ourselves. We fought hard.”
Did you recognize?
- The captain of the Somali nationwide crew is none aside from Ahmed Ali, Mohamud’s brother. “He’s my role model,” he mentioned. “Enjoying all that alongside him made the experience even more incredible.”
- A semi-skilled footballer, Mohamud additionally works as a driving teacher.
- Born within the Netherlands, Ali has spent nearly all of his soccer profession in England. He presently performs for sixth-tier outfit Southport FC.
Triumph and hope
Having by no means certified for a main event, Somalia couldn’t be described as one of many soccer world’s powerhouses, however the nation, which has struggled to get again on its toes after enduring a lengthy civil conflict that started within the Nineteen Nineties, will seemingly content material itself with this memorable win for now.
“A win like that brings people together and creates joy,” defined the defender. “It had a huge impression – the entire nation was speaking about it. Somalia is a soccer nation; the followers are captivated with it. By power of circumstances, the gorgeous sport has needed to take a again seat. But this victory augurs properly for the long run!
“The potential is huge, but that unfortunately can’t be reflected in the FIFA World Ranking. But our objective is to organise more matches, and to increase our global standing. We’re in the early stages of a process that began with the win over Zimbabwe. I really think that it will open the door to the next generation. And maybe one day we’ll take part in the Africa Cup of Nations!”
As his namesake Muhammad Ali as soon as mentioned, “The man who has no imagination has no wings.”