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The amazing celebrations as Somali football team from Cardiff win dramatic Champions League final

By John JonesReporter
Wednesday August 10, 2022

There were wild scenes as the Warriors sealed victory in the Champions League final (Image: Ali Abdi)

Cardiff finally got a taste of Champions League glory at the weekend, courtesy of a heroic team performance in a nail-biting final that went down to the wire.

But, of course, this wasn't the work of Steve Morison's men. The capital has new footballing superstars in the form of the Cardiff Bay Warriors, a community team who beat a host of other sides to win the prestigious Somali British Champions League and bring the trophy back to South Wales

A dramatic final held at the home of Hertford Town FC in Hertfordshire saw the Warriors take on Leicester Atletico, with around 200 fans making the 175 mile trip from Cardiff to cheer the side on.

The tense match looked to be going Atletico's way, with the Leicester side 2-1 up as the game entered entered time. But with just two minutes left on the clock, the Warriors snatched a very late equaliser to take it to extra time. A cagey thirty minutes then followed, and with still nothing to separate the two sides, it all came down to penalties.

Despite a strong showing from both teams, however, it was the Cardiff side who held their nerve to seal victory. The winning penalty sparked wild scenes, with crowds storming the pitch to celebrate with the delighted players before they lifted the trophy amid even more chanting and cheering.

It's an incredible achievement for the Warriors, a team formed in 2019 and made up largely of young men from Butetown and Grangetown who have Somaliland heritage, as well as one that marks nine months of hard work. After progressing from the group stages and winning their quarter final, they headed to defending champions Hilltop FC in London and came from two goals down in the first leg to win 9-8 on aggregate and progress to Sunday's final.

Around 200 fans made the journey from Cardiff to Hertfordshire (Image: Ali Abdi)

The Somali British Champions League is the most prestigious competition in the UK for diaspora community teams like the Warriors. The team's spokesperson Ali Abdi said their title win had "put them on the footballing map" and was also a huge achievement for the Somali community in Cardiff.

"It was an amazing day," he said. "Amazing for the team, the manager and the community. We've been a bit quiet over the last few years having won lots of competitions before, and we've proven that we still have a quality team. As many people have commented, the Warriors are back.

The team gather for dua (prayer) before the penalty shootout (Image: Ali Abdi)

He added: "The team has done themselves proud and so has everyone who came to watch, or tuned in. We've had thousands of people watch the game on the livestream and to see that level of support is just brilliant. We've had the whole community behind us, MPs, councillors, executives from the FAW, all wishing us luck and it's great to see.

"It's such an important win for the community and one that will build confidence. Hopefully it will inspire younger members to see their older role models become champions of the UK."

Team manager Ahmed Noor told BBC Sport that winning the tournament felt "unreal" having worked for months to bring the trophy back with them to South Wales. He conceded, however, that he had "aged about 10 years" during the dramatic final which saw his side snatch a win from the jaws of defeat.

""As a coach standing on the sidelines, they are going to give me a heart attack," he said. "They never do it the easy way, I have aged about 10 years! But we have a motto in our team where we keep believing, we never stop trying and we have that desire right until the very end.

He added: "We are 100 per cent about promoting our heritage and we try to inspire the youth in our community. They are buzzing right now. Two hundred people travelled from Cardiff for the final and we could have filled many more coaches.

"We got back at 2am and the coaches dropped us back in our community. There was a police van on the road and they put their sirens on and congratulated us, I guess they had seen it on social media. It shows the power of sport is huge, it brings people together."


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