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  • Ethiopia will win the Africa Cup, Coach Sewnet Bishaw

    It took Ethiopia 31 years to stage a comeback to the most prestigious football tournament that has ever graced Africa.

    But the team knows too well that for them to stamp their authority at the Africa Cup of Nations, it will not be a walk in the park.

    Coach Sewnet Bishaw believes the team will not be pushovers and any opposition, regardless of their status, that wants to pip them will have to go the extra mile to do it.

    "We beat our rivals Sudan to book the ticket and this was by no means a fluke," he said.

    "We really worked hard for it and people should know that. We wanted to qualify for AFCON and knew what was at stake, we went past all those hurdles and we won’t make it easy for our opposition."

    Bishaw, who steered the side to a back-to-back victory at the Council for East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECEFA) competition years ago, also revealed that despite being grouped alongside defending champions Zambia, heavyweights Nigeria and plucky side Burkina Faso, their eye was on the title.

    "We won’t go to South Africa to be defeated.

    "Our aim has always been to bask in glory and we will go to the tourney to do nothing but win the title. We have given the youth a chance to prove themselves in this regional outing Cecafa and whoever impresses me in the process will make the team."

    Ethiopia, famously known as Walya Antelopes, have been on the global map for their achievement in athletics but by being the only representatives from East Africa, they have their weight of expectations shaped up as they seek to claim their first silverware on the continental stage since 1962.

    Claudia Ekai is a football writer and sports producer. She has covered major African football events, regularly writes for and has previously had work published on, Setanta and various agencies. 

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  • AFCON 2013: Ethiopia's Foreign Based Players

    Samuel Yeshiwas

    The Walya Antelopes will be celebrating a return to the biggest continental showpiece after a 31 year absence. Ethiopia, who last qualified for the Nations cup in 1982, has started preparation for the 2013 AFCON to be held from January 19 in South Africa. A total of 31 players are currently in camp at the Addis Intercontinental Hotel.

    The football federation has been planning extensive activities to take advantage of the football awakening in the country that came as a baggage of the qualification. The federation has budgeted a whopping 80 million birr ($ 4.44 million) for the campaign. It has recently signed a two-year sponsorship agreement with Bedele Beer, which is one of the two breweries in Ethiopia that are run by Heineken. The deal will see the federation receiving a sum of 24 million birr through the course of the agreement.

    The Walya Antelopes are out to improve their disappointing showing when they last took place at the tournament in 1982. At their last appearance in Libya, they finished last from their group with only one point. They lost 3-0. They were then beaten by Zambia 1-0, which was followed by a goalless draw with Algeria.

    Ironically, Ethiopia is grouped with its last group opponents Zambia and Nigeria. The group which is completed by Burkina Faso is expected to be an uphill battle for the Ethiopians. Even though many football analyst equate Ethiopia progressing from the group which includes the defending champions Zambia and African football giants Nigeria with mission impossible, Ethiopian coach Sewnet Bishaw dares to believe otherwise. In a recent interview with Aljazeera, he was quoted as saying”We won’t go to South Africa to be defeated.” In this interview, Sewnet was adamant his side are not in the 2013 African Cup of Nations for the first time in 31 years just to make up the numbers.

    The coach is relying on the professional experiences of his foreign based players for the upcoming challenges. Most of the players in the Ethiopian squad are home based and playing for the Ethiopian league champions St. George FC and the runners up Dedebit FC. But coach Sewnet is trying to include some foreign based players to his charges. Among them are the five players who have already joined camp.

    1. Yusuf Saleh: plays for Syrianska in the Allsvenskan which is the premier football competition of Sweden. He previously won the Allsvenskan with AIK in 2009. He plays as a left winger and was included in the shadow squad that took part in the 2012 CECAFA in Uganda. Having impressed the coach, he was called to join camp and will be hoping to make the final cut.

    2. David Beshah: The defensive midfielder plays for TSC Euskirchen in the German lower division and recently joined Sewnet’s name list.

    3. Abdusalam Abas "Fuad" Ibrahim: The 21 year old forward has a lot of experience for his age having played for the United States U-17 and U-20 and for FC Dallas and Toronto FC in the MLS. He has scored 12 goals for the USA at the youth level. He currently plays for Minnesota FC in the North American Super League.

    4. Abdul Wali Aman: Another Us based player, not much is known about this player except that he is a striker and plays for Washington University in Seattle.

    5. Khalid Mesfin-Mulugeta: The 20 year old Left-Back plays for Hannover 96 II and features at number 307 in the list of world’s 2000 best youth players. It is expected that he will face stiff competition from the talented home based players for the position.

    Egypt based striker Saladin Said is arguably the country’s best player. He has scored six goals in the last four subsequent matches he played for Ethiopia, a goal scoring prowess that has the likes of Zambia Coach Herve Renard worried. He is currently on tour in Belgium with his club and will join the National team 10 days before the tournament per FIFA guidelines.

    There has been some variance about the exclusion of globetrotter Fikru Tefera from the preliminary squad. Having played in Africa, Europe, and Asia, many believe that he would have brought a wide array of experience to the young team. The 26 year old striker reportedly left for South Africa to sign a contract with ABSA premiership side Free State Town after hearing the decision to leave him out of the team.

    As preparations intensify and the date of the tournament closes in, one has to wonder if Ethiopia has what it takes to make an impressive showing at AFCON 2013, because some 85 million Ethiopians will be hoping for the same.

    Check out Samuel's blog

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  • Ethiopia called 26 Players for national football team

    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

    Posted by Markos Berhanu, Ethiosport

     – The Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) has called on 26 players in preparation of the upcoming 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in South Africa.

    The players underwent medical checkup today.

    Ethiopia Premier League defending champions St. George and Dedebit FC have contributed the lion share with 10 and 9 players respectively. They are followed by Ethiopian Coffee (2), while EEPCO, Arba Minch, Sebeta Kenema and Defence Force had 1 each.

    The 26 players are:

    St. George (10): Degu Abebe, Biadgelegn Elias, Abebaw Butako, Shemelis Bekele, Adane Girma, Oumed Oukri, Fitsum Gebre-Mariam, Alula Girma, Yared Zenabu, Zerihun Tadele, Zerihun Tadele.

    Dedebit FC (9): Sisay Bancha, Getaneh Kebede, Berhanu Bogale, Aynalem Hailu, Seyoum Tesfaye, Aklilu Ayenew, Addis Hintsa, Menyahel Teshome, Behailu Assefa,

    Ethiopian Coffee (2): Jemal Tassew & Dawit Estifanos

    EEPCO (1): Asrat Megersa

    Commercial Bank (1): Fikru Tefferi

    Sebeta Kenema (1): Dereje Alemu

    Defence Force (1): Medhane Tadesse

    Arba Minch (1): Mulualem Mesfin

    Ethiosport, EthiopianTelevsion

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  • Ethiopia Team not willing to travel to Eritrea

    * Matches will be first between foes since 1998-2000 war

    Dec 3 (Reuters) - Ethiopia has asked African football's governing body to move its African Nations Championship qualifiers with arch-foe Eritrea to a neutral venue, with the neighbouring countries still embroiled in a bitter border row, its FA said.

    The Horn of Africa neighbours are set to lock horns in the Eritrean capital, Asmara, around January 14-16 with the return tie in Addis Ababa set for two weeks later. But Ethiopia said it would not travel to the Red Sea state.

    "We want the matches to take place, but we're not willing to travel there and it is obvious their government won't allow their team to visit Addis Ababa," said Melaku Ayele, the Ethiopian Football Federation's spokesman.

    "So we've proposed an alternative venue, neighbouring Sudan, for both matches to be held in."

    Ethiopia and Eritrea fought a border war between 1998-2000 that killed tens of thousands of troops. A Hague-based independent border commission ruled that the flashpoint town of Badme belonged to Eritrea but the village remains in the hands of Ethiopia and the spat remains unresolved.

    Asmara is yet to respond to Ethiopia's request, Melaku said.

    The African Nations Championship, played every two years, is the continent's second biggest tournament in which only domestic-based players can take part.

    Ethiopia, nicknamed the Walyas, recently sealed a spot at the more glamorous African Nations Cup finals set for January after a three-decade absence.

    Ethiopia and Eritrea were last pitched against each other in 1998 in a qualifying round for the 2000 African Nations Cup, just months after fighting broke out along their sun-blasted border.

    Ethiopia declined to take part in those matches. (Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Richard Lough and Justin Palmer)

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  • "Ethiopian Football team is not yet assembled and players are not training together." Coach Sewunet Bishaw

    By Tibebeselassie Tigabu, TheReporterEthiopia

    Most Ethiopians had given up and thrown overboard any chance of qualifying for the African Cup of Nations, i.e. until Saladin Sa'ed scored the second and winning goal of the match against the Sudan. Celebrations that came after the 31-year-old-wait saw young and old dance on the streets of Addis.

    True to form, most Ethiopians love football and for these passionate football fans seeing their national team play for the continental cup was a dream.

    However, on October 14, their prayers were answered. The Ethiopian national football team was able to win the last qualifying game against the Sudan. 

    This result excited the whole country and gave the fans hope. That day the feeling was utterly ecstatic even for those who do not care about football. 

    Beruk Getaneh, one of the many football fans who managed to see the game at the Addis Ababa Stadium, is still overwhelmed by the result and hopes that the team is doing an intensive training by way of preparation. 

    Even though he can’t predict what will happen, he seems to be fully confident on both the coach and the team.

    “I think our boys were good when they were playing against the Sudan. So, I am hopeful that the result will also turn out to be fine,” Beruk says.

    The clock it ticking and on January 19, next year, the Ethiopian national team will travel to South Africa for the games. Ethiopia is placed alongside defending champions Zambia, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

    So the questions now are how is the preparation of the national team going? Are there any intensive trainings? Who are the members of the team? 

    Like most teams, the Nigerian football team headed to Venezuela to play a friendly while the Ghanaians went to Dubai. But, what is happening here in Ethiopia? How is the course of the preparation of the team and also the Ethiopian Football Federation? 

    Until now the main stadium is deserted with only a handful federation worker here and there but no players from the national team. So the question is where they are. 

    The head coach of the national football team, Sewunet Bishaw, says that after their game with the Sudan the players are at their respective clubs playing, which will be finished at the end of the current Ethiopian month.

    Sewunet believes that club competitions are necessary to create a strong national team, but he argues that the national team also needs time and balancing is necessary.

    According to Sewunet, there is already a team but this team should not be taken for granted and if new people come with a good performance they will join the team. 

    “We are looking for better players and whenever we get those with good performance we will replace them even if it means assembling a new team if that is what it takes to go all the way,” Sewunet told The Reporter.

    Players of the existing team know each other very well and have been working with Sewunet for about a year and, according to Sewunet, they already know who is nominated or not. 

    On the other hand, Sewunet also says that whether they are nominated or not they have to work hard to be nominated. So this nomination is not final.

    Looking for better players, the federation announced that talented Ethiopians from all over the world can come and join the team and already two players, Abraham Kahsay from the US and Yusuf  Salah from Sweden, are already here.  

    He believes that the big teams got to where they are today through hard work and intensive training programs and that is what the Ethiopian team ought to do. 

    “For years we have been on the losing side. We don’t question or analyze why we lost. One of the pertinent problems is that we don’t build or organize the team well,” Sewunet states. 

    Sewunet believes that to build a very strong team there has to be friendly matches with strong teams and this has not happened yet because of financial constraints from the federation side.

    With the days drawing nearer, the team is ont yet assembled and players are not training together and this kind of problem puts Sewunet in a tight spot. 

    But he gets furious when people make the responsibility his and only his. In response to that he says that it is everyone’s responsibility and responsible people should do their job.

    “It is not only the federation that is responsible. Now the federation does not have money to fix friendly matches. That is where we are now,” Sewunet says.

    Choosing the 23-man team is Sewunet’s responsibility but he could not get hold of them and, according to Sewunet, it is the federation’s responsibility to force the clubs. 

    He says that he has repeatedly requested the federation through letters but the federation has still not given him any response or forced the clubs to let go of the players. But after the team assembles, his plan is to do five friendly matches which he believes are necessary.

    “If we start now it will give us enough time for training, evaluate their current performance, compare them with one another during the friendly matches and finally come up with the best team,” says Sewunet 
    In his plan, he also included which day is best for the international friendly matches and there are also specific days that are decided by FIFA. So he also put those days into consideration. 

    Despite not having a friendly match Sewunet follows up the current performance of the teams that qualified for African Cup of Nations where he even got a DVD of the current match between Nigeria and Venezuela. He also watched the match between Zambia and South Africa. 

    “Only watching the games does not make sense. We have to start practice soon since I have to know their current performance. Honestly speaking I might be even forced to make a new team,” Sewunet says.

    Despite all this he believes that there is enough time for preparations if they come together on November 29.

    If they come on this day his plan is to do 31 highly intensive trainings, 10 moderate sessions, seven medium sessions, 14 rehabilitation exercises and all these also include the friendly matches with the international teams. 

    But if they don’t come on this day the trainings will be compromised which also compromises the preparation.

    Many countries, especially the established ones, call their players two weeks before the start of the games and Sewunet believes that it will be a big mistake  if the federation follows suit.

    “Comparing the Ethiopian national team with England, German and Spain is a mistake. It took us 31 years to qualify for the African Cup of Nations and even CECAFA Cup is becoming difficult for us,” Sewunet says. 

    Teka Asfaw, deputy president of the EFF, is hopeful and still believes that there is a time to do every preparation that is needed.  

    According to him, three main committees were established: administration and logistics, technique, fundraising and journey committees to work intensively on the preparation. 

    There are five main strategies which start with the collection of 50 million birr to cover the expenses of the national football team including the friendship games. 

    “The money will be collected via SMS, concerts, fundraising dinners, printing and selling, t-shirts, hats and scarf in Ethiopia and South Africa and through sponsorship.

    Teka believes that most of the paperwork has been finalized. He regards the SMS they have discussed with Ethio Telecom and with an organization that took the contract and he is hopeful that it will start soon.
    The date and the venue of the fund raising dinner will be known soon and they are planning to have it either at the Sheraton or the Millennium Hall and this will be a farewell dinner for the national football team.

    The printing is outsourced to a company called Akakas and they are still discussing the logo.

    As for the concert, even though Teka doesn’t want to reveal who the singers will be, many of the renowned artists agreed to do the concert for free and Teka thinks it will be before Ethiopian Christmas. The concert will be also held again in South Africa during the matches.

    With regard to sponsorship Teka says that they did not start it yet, they have to do advertisements.

    Plane tickets and accommodation for the team during friendly matches are some of the expenses.

    “We have to promise an award to boost their moral. The Nigerian government promised to give them 100,000 dollars each. Even though we cannot do that, at least we should give them an award,” Teka says. 

    The federation requested five countries: Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, for friendly matches.

    Because of the similarity of altitude and weather with South Africa the Ghanaian and Ivorian teams accepted the invitation and are set to come here. Algerians have invited the Ethiopian team. Morocco and Egypt have not responded as yet.

    According to Teka, many of the players went to their respective clubs in Europe. So when the second round comes, they will hopefully do the friendly matches. 

    Apart from teams from West Africa, the federation also believes that having friendly matches with northern African teams is good for experience. 

    According to Teka, friendly matches have seasons and they need to have a go-ahead from FIFA and CAF.

    He says that many of the teams are having friendly matches even before knowing if they qualify or not for the African Cup of Nations.

    “They arranged everything beforehand. We did not think we would qualify for the African Cup of Nations. Many of the teams arranged these matches during the groupings of CAF,” Teka says.

    But still the team is not ready yet and now the two Ethiopians from America and Sweden are still undergoing the screening process.

    The American will be included in the shadow team for CECAFA but the Swede is not an Ethiopian citizen. So he cannot play international matches representing Ethiopia.

    “He showed his willingness to play for Ethiopia. We are still screening him and once we decide to include him in the national team, we shall automatically notify the government to issue him citizenship,” Teka says.
    According to Teka, the friendly match is not possible not only because of financial constraints but also the team is not ready yet. 

    “We are still in the screening process and once we finish that we will do the friendly matches,” Teka adds 

    Many football teams usually are sponsored by companies like Coca Cola or Nike but when it comes to the Ethiopian team it has not happened yet. But he is still hopeful with the fundraising strategy like the SMS. “There are 17 million phone subscribers and if people text you can imagine how much money it is”

    The federation also requested the government for money and they have received the green light.

    “We know we have to do at least three friendly matches. But if the worst comes to the worst and we don’t have money, we will ask Sheik Mohammed Al Amoudi,” Teka says.

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  • Ethiopia bring in new faces for Cecafa Challenge Cup

    Ethiopia have announced a squad which includes more than a dozen uncapped players for this month's Cecafa Challenge Cup in Uganda.
    The former African champions will be without the majority of the players who helped the team qualify for next year's Nations Cup in South Africa after a 31-year absence.
    Midfielder Yared Zenabu, of Ethiopian league champions Saint George, is the only player in the squad who contributed actively in the 2013 Nations Cup qualifying campaign.
    The 14 uncapped players are home-based except for Abraham Kassa who plays in Alabama in the United States.
    Perhaps, the most experienced player in the 21-man squad is globetrotter Fikru Tefera, who has played in Europe, Africa and Asia. The other foreign-based player is Yusuf Salah, of Swedish club Syrianska.
    The inclusion of both Salah and Kassa forms part of Ethiopia's drive to search for overseas-based players of Ethiopian origin to strengthen their squad for the Nations Cup.
    Ethiopia have been drawn in Group A of the Cecafa Challenge Cup, along with hosts Uganda, neighbours Kenya and South Sudan.
    They will open the competition against South Sudan on 24 November at the Namboole Stadium. The final will be played on 8 December at the same venue.
    Goalkeepers: Binyam Habtamu (Hawassa City), Samson Asefa (Harar Beer), Deraje Alemu (Sebeta City)
    Defenders: Moges Tadesse, Robel Girma (Sidama Coffee), Girma Bekele (Hawassa City), Mehari Mena (Commercial Bank Ethiopia)
    Midfielders: Gatoch Panomo, Masood Mohamed (Ethiopia Coffee), Yared Zenabu, Mesfin Kidane (Saint George), Tilahun Wolde (Defence), Abdul Karim Hassan (Electricity), Elias Mamo (Commercial Bank Ethiopia), Mulualem Mesfin (Arba Minch)
    Strikers: Dawit Fekadu, (Dedebit), Yonathan Kebede (Electricity), Amele Milkias (Arba Minch), Fikru Tefera (Thanh Hoa, Vietnam), Abraham Kassa (Alabama College, USA), Yusuf Salah (Syrianska, Sweden)

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  • All Group C countries except Ethiopia played International friendly games

    Nigeria recorded a 3-1 scoreline against Venezuela on Wednesday, the same night Zambia defeated South Africa in international friendlies marking the start of preparations for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

    Zambia and Nigeria, alongside Burkina Faso and Ethiopia are in Group C of the tournament to be hosted by South Africa.

    As Zambia and Nigeria collected some vital preparation lessons in their win, Burkina Faso also 1-0 winners over the Democratic Republic of Congo in Morocco. The Nigerians, however, will be happy to have found the net three times more than Zambia and Burkina Faso.

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  • Ethiopian Coach warn Group C opponents

    Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw has declared they are not in Group C to make up the numbers.

    "It’s not by chance that we are at the Africa Cup, it’s by qualification," Bishaw said.

    "We will meet any challenge and our aim is to go as far to the final and win. We will fight."

    The 1962 champions, who will end a 31-year hiatus from the competition next year, kickoff their Group C campaign against African champions Zambia on January 21 in Nelspruit.

    "We are not at all scared of Zambia because we have seen them play," Bishaw said.

    "Yes they are defending champions and we respect that but we are not scared of them, we will play eleven against eleven."

    Ethiopia has won just one of their last three meetings against Zambia over the last six years.

    They beat Zambia 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the 2010Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup in Tanzania on December 7.

    The defeat came a year after losing 1-0 to Zambia in a Group A game in Nairobi of the same event.

    Zambia also beat Ethiopia by that same margin in the quarterfinals of the 2006 edition of the same event in Addis Ababa on the formers’ way to victory.

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