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.
A suicide bomber, in April 2012 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.