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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 June, 2004, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Somalis turn professional
By Emmanuel Muga
BBC Sport, Dar es Salaam

Somali internationals Abdulkadir Sheikh Othman on the left with Issa Aden
Somalia's first professional players Abdulkadir Othman (left) and Issa Aden

Internationals Abdulkadir Sheikh Othman and Issa Aden have become the first Somalis to play professional football outside their war-torn country.

The 19-year old goalkeeper Othman and 18-year-old striker Aden from the Elmani club in Mogadishu have signed two-year deals to play for Tanzanian champions Simba.

Simba's acting secretary general Hassan Othman told BBC Sport that the pair have been offered a signing on fee of US $4,000 each and will be paid monthly salaries of US $150 each.

Currently the clubs Somalia's eight-team top division are unable to pay their players mainly due to the civil strife that has beset the country for more than a decade.

The players are naturally elated with their achievements and they believe being at Simba will be springboard for the future.

"I'm feeling really good, it's the first time Somalia have had professionals, it's a big achievement in my life," a very happy Aden told BBC Sport.

"I need to achieve more things and that is now possible because Simba is a big team, I would like to continue with my career and go forward to Europe," he added.

The players were spotted at East Africa's regional Cecafa club championship in Rwanda last month, where they helped prevent Elmani from conceding too many goals.

The Somali side also came up with something of a shock when they held Ugandan giants Express FC to a 1-1 draw.

"They played a high level of football in Kigali, their efforts alone saved Elmani from losing to every team by big margins, they are young and talented," said the former Simba secretary general Kassim Dewji, who brought the pair.

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