Somalia’s Ocean Stars hope to drown Zimbabwe Warriors

By Stanley Kwenda

Somalia’s Ocean Stars will make history if they beat Zimbabwe Warriors in the second-leg of a qualifying match for the group stage of the Fifa 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Last week their Manchester-based driving school instructor, Mohamud Ali (in photo), helped lead Somalia to a surprising 1-0 victory in a match played in Djibouti.

That result made headlines around the world because it was largely unexpected.

No-one had given Somalia a chance against the Warriors, who recently took part in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournament in Egypt.

The result angered many Zimbabwean fans.

Ahead of the match at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, new Zimbabwe coach Joey Antipas has recalled talisman Khama Billiat to help defend the country’s honour. Billiat plays for Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa.

He and a host of other star players were left out of the first leg due to various reasons.

Observers believe some of the players did not receive a call up as punishment for demanding their allowances while on duty at the Afcon tournament in Egypt.

The absence of the star players is not the only reason why Zimbabwe lost in Djibouti.

Maladministration of the game has been the order of the day with players not being paid on time.

Sometimes they find themselves with no accommodation nor training facilities.

Before the Afcon in Egypt the national team was kicked out of a training facility for not paying fees.

In the past, they have also been kicked out of hotels, had to travel long distances to fulfill fixtures on cross-border buses, and now they rely on the benevolence of a church pastor for their accommodation.

If the Warriors lose the game, most fans will blame the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) for mismanagement, but that will not take away the credit that would be rightly due to Somalia for the win.