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Overseas Stars Putting Djibouti Football Club Arta Solar 7 in the Spotlight

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Overseas Stars Putting Djibouti Football Club Arta Solar 7 in the Spotlight

Isifu Wirfengla
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The recruitment of a handful overseas stars has brought Djiboutian club Arta Solar 7 into the spotlight. Becoming the centre of attraction on the African continent challenges the club to work hard and grind out results across competitions. Arsenal’s cult hero and former Cameroonian international, Alexandre Song – now the club’s trademark signing – says their goal for next season is reaching the group stages of the CAF Champions League.

Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport in Djibouti like in most parts of Africa. Regarded as one of the smallest nations in Africa, the country’s reigning champions Arta Solar 7 have begun enjoying enormous influence and attention, charming great talents from across the continent and beyond. 

Out of nowhere, Arta Solar 7 have made it a priority to massively invest in players, luring overseas players with whooping cash and attractive ambitions. Its owner, Franco-Ivorian businessman Tommy Tayoro Nyckoss is quoted to have said his focus was to see the club join the elite of Africa.

“We have a president who does not limit himself because he wants to promote Djiboutian football and African football,” Alexandre Song confirmed to Africafootunited.

While fans are excited to see the club thrive, following a well-tailored scheme, it is even more likely to see Arta Sola 7 in the next few years attract more and more foreign footballers.

But how exactly did a club in one of the smallest countries on the continent become a target for some of Africa’s prominent footballers?

The hottest football destination

Rumours linking Burkina Faso international Alain Traore to Arta Solar 7 did not come as a surprise to many. The 32-year-old midfielder is on the verge of joining the Djiboutians after having enjoyed spells in France, Turkey, Qatar and recently Morocco.

If the deal goes through, Traore will join a cast of players who have strangely experienced the same career path. The fact remains that Arta Solar 7 spending did not start with him and he is clearly not the last on the club’s radar.

Before news of his arrival sprouted, Arta had at least seven (7) foreign based professionals in their books with Cameroon top of the list with three (3): former Arsenal and Barcelona star Alexandre Song, Olympic gold medallist and  Africa Cup of Nations winner Idriss Carlos Kameni and Dany Nounkeu.

Opening up to Africafootunited Song said “I was fortunate enough to play at a higher level. As I have said in the past, I have come back to transmit.”

“By making us come to Djibouti,” Song says, “is to show young Djiboutians that they can succeed. It is also to set an example to other African countries, to say that we too can return to our countries or the continent to do beautiful things. This is what we are trying to do together here and what is good,” Song.

Nigeria’s international Samuel Akinbinu, who bagged an impressive number of goals since joining the club, Senegal’s Diafra Sakho, and Ugandan goalkeeper Sulait Luyima also make up the strength of the now enviable club.

The arrival of these players has greatly helped the team claw itself out of opacity. Led by skipper Alexandre Song, Arta Solar 7 championed the just ended Djibouti Premier League. The win ended the long standing dominance of ASAS Djibouti Telecom [who won the league between 2012 and 2018], AS Port and Gendarmerie Nationale.

It is fair to say that the 2021 triumph came as a consolation to their humiliating exit from last season’s preliminaries of the CAF Confederation Cup where they aggregately lost 10-2 to Arab Contractors alias Al Mokawloon. 

Financial Power

As a matter of fact, football is a business.  And if you want to succeed you have to invest. That’s exactly what Arta Solar 7’s entrepreneurial president, Tommy Tayoro Nyckoss, is doing.

Before, the club was sponsored by two companies.  First by Ethio-Djibouti Railways when it was known as AS CDE/Arta. It was then changed to Arta/SIHD when the International Hydrocarbon Society took over.

Since 2018, the club has maintained the name Arta Solar 7 as the Djibouti-based Solar Power Company Solar 7 is their official sponsor. The company is part of Tommy Tayoro Nyckoss’ diversified and multicultural companies. Tayoro runs Ivory Jet Services, the first private airline in Djibouti, Airline catering service company – Délic Air and the Djibouti Air college.

Founded in 1980, Arta Solar 7 has four Djibouti championship titles and 6 Cups to its credit. It recorded timid performances at the 2005/2006 Arab champions League.

Tayoro’s overhauling of Arta has started bearing first fruits as the little known club is becoming the talk of Africa.

Tackling the tides

When the going gets tough, the tough gets going, the saying goes. Arta have graduated from being underdogs and are shooting themselves to the top. The challenge now is keeping up with the whirlwinds, living up to expectations.

Aware of these hurdles, players, staff and administration are putting in their best.

“We are determined,” Tayoro said, “to establish ourselves as a benchmark nationally and regionally by ensuring optimal development for the team, executives and sports management, in the medium term the team intends to conquer African trophies.”

Poised for a decent display in the preliminaries of the 2021-2022 CAF Champions League, the club travelled to Yaounde, Cameroon, for pre-season camp.

Since Monday 9 August 2021, Song and his team mates have been oiling their machinery at the CAF Excellence Training Centre located in the outskirts of the political city. Trainings and warm-up matches with local clubs have been happening under the stewardship of coach Thomas Libih.

Reacting to a couple of friendlies played, Captain Song said “the most important thing is not the score. We will be able to recover and warm up to be able to attack the first game we are going to play by September 12.”

Libih, a well-known one-time Cameroonian international is said to be Arta’s new head coach but the club have yet to make an official statement about it. He formerly managed the cadet Lions of Cameroon whom he helped win the 2019 U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Tanzania.   

Everything being equal, Arta will leave Cameroon for Morocco, where they will round off pre-season tour.

Reporter: Beng Emmanuel, Editor: Isifu Wirfengla

Isifu Wirfengla
Isifu Wirfengla

Isifu Michael WIRFENGLA is holder of a Bsc. in Journalism. He has five years of broadcast experience. Apart from freelance/sports reporting, he is a practising/trained football Referee in Cameroon and Communicator for the Ministry of Justice in Yaounde.

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