Words: ACFC Media
Wednesday 2 June 2021
AUCKLAND, New Zealand - Auckland City FC forward Mohammed Awad has been called up for international duty by Somalia.
The 27-year-old Hamilton-born player was notified of his inclusion in their squad for the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 qualifiers last week.
Awad, whose parents are both from Somalia, was delighted to receive the news.
"It's a big honour to be called up by Somalia so to be able to put that jersey on and give people hope is special for me and I'm very grateful to be in such a privileged position.
"Hamilton has a big Somali community and the messages I've received from people over the past few days has been amazing.
"I've never been to Somalia before but everyone in the Somali community in New Zealand speaks about it positively.
"I don't have any expectations, its going to be a good experience and something I am looking forward to.
"My parents are very proud of me to play for Somalia and they've been very supportive of my journey and I'm sure they'll be excited to see me pull on the national team colours.
"Somalia is a country that's been through a lot of upheaval over a lot of decades and I am eager to make a contribution to the national team," he told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
Awad has enjoyed a strong career in Australia and New Zealand turning out for Auckland City FC, Melbourne Knights, Port Melbourne Sharks, Waikato FC and Melville United, paid tribute to Declan Edge.
"The biggest influence on my career is Declan Edge. Declan allowed me to dream of becoming a professional from a young age and he gave me that platform.
"The support from José (Figueira) and Ivan (Vicelich) and my team-mates at City has also been great.
"Everyone has passed on their congratulations for the call up and wished me all the best which I really appreciate," he said.
Before the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 takes place, Somalia must defeat Oman first in a head to head playoff.
"We play Oman in a one-off qualifier and if we can win that game then we'll qualify for the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021 and be part of the final tournament.
"There are 16-teams involved and we want to be in the mix," he said.
Somalia has been drawn into Group A with host nation Qatar and Iraq with the other qualifier either Bahrain or Kuwait.
Group B contains Tunisia, UAE, Syria and either Mauritania or Yemen.
The toughest looking section is a toss up between Group C or Group D.
Morocco, Saudi Arabia and either Jordan or South Sudan and Palestine or Comoros make up Group C.
In Group D, Algeria, Egypt, and either Lebanon or Djibouti and either Libya or Sudan round off the contenders.
Somalia recently appointed Abdellatif Salef of Morocco as its new national team head coach on a two year deal.
Auckland City FC coach José Figueira was delighted for Awad.
"It's a great achievement for Mohammed and shows what great form he's been in.
"He's another of a long list of players to receive international recognition at Auckland City FC and its well deserved.
"He's been outstanding at every game, his dedication and hard work at training and commitment off the pitch with coaching has seen him rewarded for his perseverance.
"Mohammed conducts himself exceptionally well off the pitch and everyone at the club wishes him all the success possible with Somalia," he told www.aucklandcityfc.com.
Awad is one of a handful of New Zealand-born footballers to be called up by a different nation including Australia's Archie Thompson, who was born in Otorohanga, and Tauranga-born Tyler Boyd who switched allegiance to the USA national team after making six appearances for the All Whites in May 2019.
In the women's game, Wellington-born Maya Hahn, a former New Zealand U-17 international, opted for selection for Germany in November 2019.
Name: Mohammed Awad
Birthplace: Hamilton, New Zealand
Auckland City FC appearances: 22
Auckland City FC goals: 8
Auckland City FC debut: v. Team Wellington (A) 6 December 2020 drew 2-2
FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™ - Playoffs
19 June 2021
Libya v Sudan
20 June 2021
Oman v Somalia
21 June 2021
Jordan v South Sudan
22 June 2021
Mauritania v Yemen
23 June 2021
Lebanon v Djibouti
24 June 2021
Palestine v Comoros
25 June 2021
Bahrain v Kuwait
FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™ - Finals
30 November 2021 - 18 December 2021
Qatar, Iraq, Winner of Oman v. Somalia and Winner of Bahrain v. Kuwait
Tunisia, UAE, Syria and Winner of Mauritania v. Yemen
Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Winner of Jordan v. South Sudan and Winner of Palestine v. Comoros
Algeria, Egypt, Winner of Lebanon v. Djibouti and Winner of Libya v. Sudan
Find out more about the FIFA Arab Cup Qatar 2021™ here.