How Harambee Stars ace missed rare Lionel Messi opportunity

How Harambee Stars ace missed rare Lionel Messi opportunity
Credit: Icon Sport

In the high-stakes world of football, a momentous occasion recently unfolded as Harambee Stars' rising talent, Abdi Salim, found himself on the cusp of a remarkable opportunity.

With the stage set for an exhilarating encounter against none other than the legendary Lionel Messi, excitement and anticipation filled the air.

However, fate had other plans, and the young starlet's dreams were put on hold as coach Oscar Pareja decided to bench him for the game.

The encounter in question was part of the Leagues Cup 2023, where Orlando City SC clashed with inter-state rivals Inter Miami at the DRV PNK Stadium.

In the world of sports, missed opportunities often serve as valuable lessons and motivations for athletes. For Harambee Stars' Abdi Salim, the chance to play against the iconic Lionel Messi was an unforgettable opportunity that slipped through his fingers.

While disappointment may linger,  the Harambee Stars youngster can use this experience as fuel to push himself further, honing his skills and determination to reach greater heights in his career.

Harambee Stars player Abdi Salim in action
Credit: Icon Sport

As he continues to grow as a player, the day may come when fate presents him with another chance to share the field with footballing legends.

Until then, he will persevere, knowing that the journey to greatness is often paved with obstacles and setbacks, making success all the more rewarding when it finally arrives.

Harambee Stars' Abdi Salim benched

Orlando City lineup: Pedro Gallese, Kyle Smith, Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson, Rafael Santos, Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena, Iván Angulo, Facundo Torres, Mauricio Pereyra (c), Duncan McGuire

Substitutions: Adam Grinwis, Mason Stajduhar, Ramiro Enrique, Felipe, Ercan Kara, Jack Lynn, Shak Mohammed, Martin Ojeda, Luca Petrasso, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thórhallsson, and Harambee Stars' Abdi Salim

Pareja displayed unwavering confidence in his team's abilities by sticking with the same starting lineup that secured a thrilling 3-2 victory against Santos Laguna over the weekend. The players, having proved their mettle in the previous match, were eager to replicate their winning performance on the field once again.

However, Salim and the talent Jack Lynn was on the bench, replacing Juninho and Thomas Williams.

Inter Miami lineup: D. Callender, D. Yedlin, S. Kryvtsov, K. Miller, N. Allen, D. Arroyo, S. Busquets, B. Cremaschi, Lionel Messi, J. Martínez, Robert Taylor

Substitutions: V. Ulloa, E. Azcona, R. Robinson, R. Sailor, C. Jensen, S. Borgelin, D. Gómez, J. Alba, L. Campana, H. Neville, CJ dos Santos, D. Ruíz

The Harambee Stars player's journey in the Leagues Cup 2023 came to a disappointing end as Orlando City fell 3-1 on Wednesday night.

he Lions put up a brave fight, but ultimately, the Herons proved too formidable, sealing their victory in the second half, including a controversial penalty kick goal that became the game-winner.

Orlando City vs Inter Miami as it happened 

The match kicked off with an early strike from Inter Miami, as Robert Taylor set up Messi in the seventh minute, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

However, Orlando City quickly responded, with midfielder César Araújo finding the net just ten minutes later off a corner kick to level the score.

After the halftime break, Miami regained their lead in the 51st minute, courtesy of a contentious penalty call that went in their favour. Forward Josef Martínez stepped up to convert the spot-kick, despite protests from the Orlando City players who felt that VAR should have been utilized to review the decision.

The Herons extended their advantage in the 72nd minute, as Josef Martínez turned provider, delivering a well-placed cross that found Lionel Messi, who calmly slotted it home for his second goal of the night, leaving the Lions trailing by two goals.

Adding to the challenges of the match, both teams had to endure a lengthy weather delay during warmups, pushing the kick-off time back by an hour and a half. However, the players showcased their resilience and determination, giving the fans an enthralling encounter despite the adverse conditions.

With their Leagues Cup journey now concluded, Orlando City SC will have 17 days to regroup before they resume their MLS regular-season play on August 20, when they travel to face Chicago Fire FC. The Lions will undoubtedly use this break to reassess and prepare for the upcoming challenges in the league.

While the result may not have favoured Orlando City, their performance showed promise, especially with César Araújo's impactful goal and the determined efforts of their star players. The team will look to build on these positives and continue striving for success as the MLS season progresses.

As for Inter Miami CF, the victory solidifies their position in the competition and showcases their potential as a force to be reckoned with. With Lionel Messi and Josef Martínez leading the charge, they will be a formidable opponent for any team they face in the Leagues Cup and beyond.

The rivalry between the two Florida-based teams remains as fierce as ever, promising more thrilling encounters in the future.

This article was most recently revised and updated 12 months ago

Rababe Koussaimi, a 22-year-old journalist, is deeply passionate about the world of sports. She grew up in a footballing environment, supporting both Bayern Munich and Wydad Athletic Club. She began her English journalism career by hosting a podcast for the first English radio station in Morocco. Currently, the Moroccan journalist channels her enthusiasm into writing and conducting extensive research, creating insightful and engaging content for GoalBall Live readers.