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  • Africa’s best team so far

    by Sunday Oliseh, Super Sport

    They are easily the best team that we have seen so far at the Afcon (Africa Cup Of Nations). They are mobile, confident, skillful, organised and refreshing to watch. No I am not talking about the usual big boys of Africa. I am talking about Ethiopia!

    Yesterday Ethiopia took on defending champions Zambia and, for many, it was not a question of who the victors would be (which many assumed would be Zambia) but by how much they might win. End result 1-1. The victory went to the Ethiopians in a moral sense.

    As the game progressed it became clear that the Zambians were just as surprised as we all were at the quality of the Ethiopians. They are ranked as the least team in Africa by Caf and Fifa (31st in Africa). Parading a team of all home-based players they reminded me in so many ways of Barcelona of Spain. Yes they were that good!

    Playing in a 1-4-5-1 formation with an extremely talented Said Saladin up front as the lone striker, they created goal scoring chances, ran rings around the Zambians with their passing game and put on constant pressure to prevent them from playing. They even the luxury to miss a penalty by Saladin.

    They unfortunately had their goalkeeper sent off in the midpoint of the first half and played over an hour with one man less. The ‘Kung Fu kick’ by Ethiopia’s goalkeeper on the goal-bound Zambian deserved a red card.

    However, here comes the interesting part. If you had missed the red card episode you would have thought that they were the team with one man more.

    They kept on playing as if nothing happened.

    Zambia eventually, against the run of play, took the lead via Mbesuma Collins, only to concede an equaliser minutes before the final whistle via Ethiopia’s Adane Grima.

    Who says African coaches are not world class? The game plan, tactics and choreographed movements by the modest Ehiopian players are the brain work of their impressive coach, Sewnet Bishaw.

    His astute decision to send in midfielder Addis Hintsa 25 minutes before the end of the encounter was key. He started the flowing move that led Adane Grima to the ball to score for Ethiopia.

    Were they very good or were the Zambians just below par, or below what they had us used to last year? Well I feel it was a bit of both and slightly leaning to the fact that the Ethiopians were just better.

    Their fans knew this before us all and were very vocal and present, to the delight of all neutrals.

    Having said the above, I am curious to see how they confirm this five-star performance in the next group game v Burkina Faso. Confirm it or not they have made African football better and sent scares through their future opponents. Only time will tell us more.

    Follow this page and follow me on Twitter at @sundayOOliseh

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  • Ethiopia's coach Bishaw: We can reach QF

    Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw is setting his sights on securing a quarter-final berth for his side at this year's Africa Cup of Nations.

    The Walya Antelopes have not made it past the qualifying stages since 1982 and are making their return to the continental showpiece after a 30-year absence.

    Ethiopia are the lowest-ranked of all the finalists although they won the tournament in 1962.

    They face reigning champions Zambia in their opening tie, but come into AFCON 2013 on a high having beaten Tanzania 2-1 leading up to their first match.

    Bishaw said: "Our confidence is sky-high. We are looking at going as far as we can with our first aim being the quarter-finals."

    Zambia coach Herve Renard, whose team failed to win any of their last six friendlies, added: "They (Ethiopia) have a lot of skilled players able to run right to the end.

    "We have to be very careful about this team. It is going to be a very tough match for us."

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  • Ethiopian Athelet Alemayehu Shumye has died in car Accident

    ORGANISERS of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon have described the death of 2012 champion Alemayehu "Alex" Shumye as a terrible tragedy, saying the 24-year-old had spoken about returning to the city and defending his title this year.

    Shumye died as a result of injuries from a car accident in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Friday, six days after finishing 10th in Xiamen, China with a time of 2hr 12min 57sec.

    Gold Coast marathon chairman Kerry Watson said organisers fully expected Shumye to return to the Coast this year after praising the event.

    "He loved our marathon; he considered it one of the better ones to run on because it's so flat," he said.

    "He wanted to come back and we were expecting him to return and defend his title."

    Shumye came to the Gold Coast Airport Marathon twice -- in 2011 and last year -- and became the first Ethiopian male to win the event when last year he posted the fourth-fastest time ever with 2:10:35.

    Marathon officials posted a tribute to Shumye late last night on the event Facebook page, which attracted hundreds of comments or likes within an hour.

    Mr Watson said the whole marathon community was shocked.

    "We're extremely sad. With such great talent as a runner, he was certainly well respected in the world," he said.

    "As an Ethiopian, he was a very quiet person, as most Ethiopians are; he was very respectful and quite humble."

    His marathon career began in 2008 and with much promise he won his first three races at the distance in Vercelli (Italy), Warsaw (Poland) and Beirut (Lebanon).

    His lifetime best, 2:08:46, was set at the 2009 Frankfurt Marathon, where he finished fifth.

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  • "We have good morale, a good mentality and we are very strong, so we can face any kind of challenge,” Adane Girma

    They may be seen as one of the minnows of the 2013 African Cup of Nations, but Ethiopia are determined not to be the whipping boys of the competition.

    The Walya Antelopes last participated in the continental showdown in 1982, having won the competition in 1962.

    The east Africans qualified for the 2013 edition by edging out Benin on the away goals rule, before beating Sudan by the same means after their two matches ended in a 5-5 aggregate score-line.

    Now that they have reached the finals, Ethiopia are keen to make the most of their opportunity and are determined not to be overwhelmed by their more illustrious opponents in Group C, iancluding Zambia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

    “We are going to face a lot of challenges and we have been away from the competition for a long time,” striker Adane Girma told AFP.

    “But we have good morale, a good mentality and we are very strong, so we can face any kind of challenge,” he added.

    The Walya Antelopes’ first match is against the defending champions Zambia, upon whom all their attention is focussed for now.

    “We are just thinking about finishing that first game on top and then later think about Nigeria or Burkina Faso,” said Girma.

    Coach Sewnet Bishaw, however, has cautioned that his charges, of whom all but three play in the Ethiopian domestic league, lack experience playing at the highest level.

    “Our players are young and they are less experienced with international matches like (the Cup of Nations),” he said.

    Bishaw is confident though that his players will produce performances full of heart and commitment.

    “The mood is 100 percent – they want to show their talent and sell their personality to the world.

    “We have tried many times to qualify for the African Cup of Nations, we have tried many different types of coaches, including professionals from abroad.

    “But now we are all locals here, we made it, so it’s a great thing for our nation,” he said.

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  • Zambia which is grouped with Ethiopia Suffer Third Friendly Defeat

    By Pius Utomi Ekpei 

    African champions Zambia suffered a third consecutive friendly defeat when losing 2-0 to fellow qualifiers Angola Saturday in a 2013 Africa Cup of Nations warm-up.

    Striker Geraldo, who plays for Brazilian second-tier club Parana, opened the scoring after eight minutes at Dobsonville Stadium and defender Amaro from championship runners-up Primeiro Agosto added a second five minutes from time.

    Zambia, who begin the defence of the title on January 21 against Ethiopia in north-eastern South African city Nelspruit, lost away to Saudi Arabia and Tanzania last month.

    But the losses will not unduly concern 44-year-old French coach Herve Renard as Zambia also posted poor warm-up results before winning the Cup of Nations for the first time with a penalty shootout victory over favourites Ivory Coast.

    Chipolopolo (The Copper Bullets) have three more friendlies lined up against Morocco, Norway and Namibia before facing Group C rivals Ethiopia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

    Angola, whose Group A opponents will be South Africa, Morocco and the Cape Verde Islands, are on a roll under Uruguayan coach Gustavo Ferrin as this was a third win in a row after home successes against Rwanda and Cameroon.

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  • Ethiopia land third friendly with Tanzania

    Tanzania national soccer team Taifa Stars has landed an international friendly match against Ethiopia away in Addis Ababa next Friday.A statement released  by the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) Information Officer, Boniface Wambura, said that the match will be played at the National Stadium in Addis Ababa.

    Taifa Stars coach, Kim Poulsen has summoned 22 players in the squad which will enter into a residential training camp tomorrow in preparation for the friendly. The friendly is part of the Taifa Stars trial games ahead of the World Cup qualifier match against Morocco in March 22.

    But for Ethiopia, the game is their final trial before heading for the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals set to start in South Africa on January 19. Ethiopia is in same group with the AFCON defending Champions, Zambia who played Taifa Stars last month and lost 0-1 to the local side.

    In his squad, Kim has retained DR Congo based stars Mbwana Samatta and Thomas Ulimwengu.The two strikers were part of the team that was called by Kim for last month’s friendly match against African Champions, Zambia ‘Chipolopolo,’ but went AWOL. They later reported late in the camp and were left out of the match because they were nursing injuries. Stars went ahead to win 1-0 at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

    The duo also missed out of the Mainland’s Kilimanjaro Stars team campaign in the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup in Kampala from November 24 to December 8, last year because they were denied permission by their Congolese club TP Mazembe. During the match against Zambia several soccer fans failed to hold their anger and insulted the two players, accusing them of putting their interest ahead of national team.

    However, both, the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) and Kim quelled the situation and indicated that the striking duo will remain part of team for a long period despite the fact that the Danish coach has always insisted that he prefer players who feel proud to play for the national team.

    Taifa Stars need to win their next encounter against Morocco for them to remain in contention for a place in the World cup to be staged in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil next year. Taifa Stars lost 2-0 away to Cote d’Ivoire in their opening Group C match mid last year but managed to bounce back with a 2-1 win over Gambia at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam to keep qualification hopes alive.

    Momodou Ceesay gave Gambia the lead in the first half, but the hosts bounced back in the second half as goals from defenders Shomari Kapombe and Erasto Nyoni earned Poulsen his first win in charge of the Stars.Tanzania are second in the group on three points, while Gambia are at the bottom of the group. Ivory Coast are on top of the group with four points and Morocco are on third with two points. Ivory Coast and Morocco played out a 2-2 draw.

    Stars players are Juma Kaseja (Simba), Aishi Manula, Mwadini Ally, Aggrey Morris (Azam), Amir Maftah (Simba), Erasto Nyoni (Azam), Issa Rashid (Mtibwa Sugar), Kelvin Yondani (Yanga), Nadir Haroub (Yanga), Shomari Kapombe (Simba), Salum Abubakar (Azam) and  Athuman Idd (Yanga).

    Others are Amri Kiemba (Simba), Khamis Mcha (Azam), Frank Domayo (Yanga), Mwinyi Kazimoto (Simba), Shabani Nditi (Mtibwa Sugar), John Bocco (Azam), Mrisho Ngasa (Simba), Simon Msuva (Yanga), Mbwana Samatta and Thomas Ulimwengu (TP Mazembe - DR Congo).

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  • Ethiopian player Fikru Tefera attacks Coach Swenet, labelled him “stupid coach”

    Former Orlando Pirates striker Fikru Tefera has launched a scathing attack on Ethiopian national team coach Bishaw Sewnet following his omission from the 23-man squad that will do battle at the Africa Cup of Nations later this month.

    Just over a month ago Tefera captained Ethiopia at the 2012 CECAFA Cup but has now been omitted from the squad that will arrive in South Africa next week for the tournament that they won 51 years ago but haven’t qualified for since 1982.

    Tefera has labelled Sewnet a ‘stupid coach who never played professional in his life and just wants to gain popularity at his expense because he (Tefera) has achieved more in his career and is living a good life in South Africa’.

    “I am not surprised you want to know why I am not in the squad and the answer is simply. It is because of politics and a stupid coach who wants to be seen as big and gain popularity for having left out a professional player from the squad,” rants Tefera in his conversation with

    “That guy (Sewnet) is just looking for fame at my expense because I am a professional and he is a teacher who never played professional football but was just lucky to make it into football. The truth is that I command a lot of respect and I am way more popular and successful in Ethiopia than him. The people in Ethiopia love me for all I have done in putting the country’s football talents on the map because I have played in Europe, South Africa and in Asia.

    “He just doesn’t like the fact that I voice my concern about issues that I always feel to be addressed in our football. He hates the fact that I had guts to say our previous coach (Tom Saintfiet) was a good coach because this is how we felt as players and I stood up to speak representing the players.

    “Since he never played professional football he thinks when you say something it is because you think you know too much. I have played under professional coaches like Gavin Hunt and I have never had a problem with any of them because they are all professional. Though I am not in the team I will still help the rest of the squad when they come to South Africa because I am familiar with this country and I have an Identity Card that makes me a permanent resident.

    “I will always be available for my country but for him I don’t care a bit. I will also be supporting Ethiopia and not him. The rest of the people in Ethiopia want me to be in the team yet he thinks I don’t deserve to be there,” says Tefera.

    Tefera – who has also played for SuperSport United – has just left Vietnam Super League club Thanh Hoa where he spent a year playing after stints in Czech Republic and Finland.

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