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North Melbourne-Flemington triumphant in 2nd Australian Somali Football Championships
It was a day for the underdogs as North Melbourne-Flemington fought back from a 2-1 deficit and being reduced to 10 men to defeat defending champions Heidelberg 5-2 in front of 1500 screaming fans in the Final of the 2nd annual Australian Somali Football Championships.
The event took place over 6 days from December 24-30, 2011 across 3 venues, with qualifiers held at Debney’s Park, Flemington and Darebin International Sports Centre and the finals at JJ Holland Park in Kensington, Melbourne.
This year’s event saw the number of teams grow from 8 to12 teams featuring four (4) interstate teams, seven (7) teams from across Melbourne and for the first time an international entrant in New Zealand Somalia.
The event also featured Somali entertainment and spectacular football skills from players drawn from Horn of African refugee communities across Australia including Somali, Ethiopian, South Sudanese, Eritrean, Oromo and Kenyan.
Victorious captain of North Melbourne-Flemington, Saed Elmi, was thrilled with his team’s performance saying “It was an honour to captain our team in this tournament and to be part of such an amazing comeback in the final and also the semi-final where we were 2 goals down.
“Heidelberg were the hot favourites with high quality players but we believed in ourselves and stuck to our game plan.”
“We are proud to represent the North Melbourne and Flemington flats communities who gave us such wonderful support and thanks to the organisers for such a great event.” Elmi added.
Third place in the tournament went to Carlton who defeated Sydney on penalties after their bronze medal game ended in a 1-1 draw.
Sami Nour accepts Tournament MVP from Moonee Valley Mayor Jim Cusack
In the individual honours, Carlton’s Sami Nour won the tournament MVP award whilst Heidelberg’s Abdirahman “HD” Ahmed and Sydney’s Yaw Boateng shared the Golden Boot Award with 7 goals each. North Melbourne-Flemington’s Amar Abdulgader won the goalkeeper of the tournament.
The final of the Under 16 Australian Somali Football Association tournament was played as the curtain raiser of the men’s final and in a thriller Flemington defeated Kensington 2-1.
Over 5000 spectators attended the tournament over 6 days which featured 27 games and a total of 111 goals scored.
Australian Somali Football Association Chairman Ahmed Dini was elated with the community support of the event and said “It’s been a great championship this year and what an amazing finale with the big crowd and high quality football.”
“This event is becoming a major national festival for our community and brings us together in a positive way that makes us proud. The win in the final is one of the greatest achievements ever for the North Melbourne and Flemington flats communities.”
“The performance of our committee and volunteers was outstanding and the feedback we have received from the sponsors and community parents, players, elders and youth has been overwhelming.”
“Now we look forward to working with Unite FC, the team made up of the best youth in the tournament and preparing them for the annual trip to Spain to compete against the best in the world.” added Mr Dini.
Quarter Final 1: North Melbourne-Flemington 1-0 New Zealand
Quarter Final 2: Carlton 1-0 Perth
Quarter Final 3: Sydney 6-0 Collingwood
Quarter Final 4: Heidelberg 10-4 Darebin
Semi Final 1: North Melbourne-Flemington 5-4 Sydney
Semi Final 2: Heidelberg 3-1 Carlton
Final: North Melbourne-Flemington 5-2 Heidelberg
Did not qualify: Werribee, Western Tigers (Brimbank), Adelaide, Brisbane
Swedish Somali singer Super Khalid sings at the Closing ceremony