Lewiston High School’s Muktar Ali, right, tries to steal the ball from Edward Little’s Jacob Kyajohnian (18) in front of EL’s Christian Beliveau during their soccer match on Garcelon Field at Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.
LEWISTON — The name is the same, even if their respective games aren’t.
Ali is a name opponents of the Lewiston boys’ soccer team have to know, and they’ll certainly remember. Two of them are brothers, and they’re right in the middle of the Blue Devils’ success.
Muktar Ali has been a known commodity for the Blue Devils for three years now, dating back to Lewiston’s state championship season in 2015. As a senior this season, he’s rounded into form as one of the more dangerous scorers in the KVAC.
Warsame Ali is just making a name for himself this season as a sophomore, and he’s already become more than just Muktar’s younger brother.
“They’re both excellent players. They bring slightly different things to the game,” Lewiston coach Mike McGraw said. “Muktar brings a great shot and some explosiveness off the ball, especially the first step. And Warsame is very good at changing directions, and he’s kind of like a schemer — which is a good thing. Schemers are the kind of players who can create an opportunity.
“They complement each other, yet they’re different.”
The Ali brothers are both listed as midfielders on the Blue Devils’ roster, and while Warsame plays the role of a traditional center-mid — always near the ball and ready to distribute in all directions — Muktar has been more of a back forward, according to McGraw, right behind striker Bilal Hersi and in front of the line of midfielders.
The brothers often find themselves near one another, however, which can spell trouble for opponents.
“It’s easier having your brother by your side. We are just communicating, doing those one, two moves, pass, one-two, one-two,” Muktar said. “Makes your work a lot easier.”
“It’s great because on and off the field we get closer,” Warsame said. “Back then, when we were little kids, our chemistry grows up, and now our chemistry is fantastic.”
Muktar has already tasted a state championship victory. Warsame missed that by a year, then made the varsity squad as a freshman but rarely sniffed the field. McGraw said it was due to a numbers game. The Blue Devils had depth, and Warsame had to wait his turn.
“He’s always been a player in the back of our mind that was going to become a contributor,” McGraw said.
“Not playing, it was a struggle. But I had to get through it,” Warsame said. “I knew I was going to finally get that moment to shine on the field, and I did this year.”
“It was an exciting season, especially playing with him,” Muktar said. “I mean, he’s my brother. Me and him used to play together when we were younger. Seeing us playing on the field in a higher level, it’s just an experience we’ll remember.”
Both brothers agree that Muktar is still the better player. At least for now.
“Watching him play is like getting things from him that he uses on the field that I can use in the future to make me a better player,” Warsame said.”
“One day he’ll probably be better than me,” Muktar said.
The elder Ali brother, a captain for the Blue Devils, also hopes his younger brother can one day follow in his footsteps as a leader as well.
“The leadership (Muktar) provides is one that is not vocal. It’s more one that is physical,” McGraw said. “He doesn’t say very much, but when he speaks it’s hard for him because he’s not an openly extroverted person. So when he says something, it comes from him inside, and I think that’s a very special thing.”
“Me on the field, I work hard, I fight for my team,” Muktar said. “For him being my younger brother, he looks up to me. I feel like after I leave he’s going to lead the team.”
Until then, the Ali brothers are hoping to help lead the Blue Devils past top-seeded Bangor in the North A regional final and into another state championship game.
“It’s been like a dream-come-true, playing with your brother on the varsity team, especially going to states hopefully,” Muktar said.
Lewiston High School’s Warsame Ali (7) battles with Edward Little’s Mnawer Dubai during their soccer match on Garcelon Field at Bates College in Lewiston on Saturday.