Somali Federation president relieved to return to Caf inter-club competitions

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Abdiqani Said Arab believes the experience of playing in the Caf Champions League and Confederation Cup will benefit football in his country

President of the Somali Football Federation Abdiqani Said Arab is looking forward to the nation’s participation in this season’s Caf Champions League and Confederation Cup.

The country located in the Horn of Africa has been away from both club competitions for 29 years before Dekedaha and Mogadishu City Club opted to feature this year.

While both clubs will be unable to play their home games in the preliminary rounds in the country, owing to security reasons, Arab is thrilled the clubs have made the step up after years of playing in the regional Cecefa competitions.

"People are really excited about moving up to take this stage to participate. We are being encouraged to continue even if our teams lose. The most important thing is to participate," Somali Football Association president Abdiqani Said Arab told the BBC.

"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 thing is to take the step to participate against the top clubs in Africa."

Dekedaha have been drawn with Zamalek in the first round of the Champions League and Mogadishu City Club will face Malindi Sports Club in the Confederation Cup. However, both clubs will be unable to play their home games in Somalia, due to security concerns, and will instead play both ties in Egypt and Zanzibar respectively.

Said Arab hopes continental games will be safe to be held in the country by next year.

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"There are several major airlines now flying into the city," he cited.

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

MBC, in 1990, were the last Somali club to participate on the continent in the old style Champions Cup. They faced St Louis from the Seychelles but were eliminated at the first hurdle.

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