Sewnet in need of at least a double –edged strategy before this historic match


Coming from a humid and hot lowland climate, to the thin air of the Ethiopian highlands, the Sudanese National team, even with a two goal advantage (5-3 first-leg score line), will be hard pressed and are expected to defend their lead with a strictly defensive tactical play with a likely line up of 4-5-1, especially when considering the determination with which the Ethiopian National team players are preparing for their second-leg match and in light of what transpired during the first leg. The Ethiopians are itching to make amends for the defeat they suffered at the hands of their neighbors which was deemed by all and sundry as being unfair, to say the least. The aggravation, in particular, stems from the controversial decisions made by the Cameroonian referee during the last three minutes before the end of the match before which the two teams were level at 3-3, with the Ethiopians outplaying their opponents in the second half and netting two goals in the process. The Ethiopian National team will be seeking to confine the Sudanese to their own half of the field while it is presumed that our “friendly” neighbors will rely on lightning counter attacks to keep them at bay. This means Ethiopian head coach Sewnet Bishaw, hardly known for his tactical genius, has a tougher homework and needs to seriously look at all options for a winning strategy. Playing at home in front of a passionate crowd and the disadvantages encountered at high altitude by one’s opponents are not, by themselves, enough to realize the dreams of the great Ethiopian fans as well as the “ Walia’s” attainable dream of appearing in the African Nations’ Cup final after a little more than three decades.
Compounding the Coach’s problems will be the absence of our main Goalkeeper Sisay Bancha, although accused by some for our present predicament (bad errors in timing and judgment being the cause), due to two bookings meaning the substitute goalie will be between the posts. A strong defensive line would have been the best remedy to alleviate the problem; but again, the team skipper and central defender Degu Debebe is unavailable for the same two bookable offences. Aynalem may be the ideal choice for Sewnet but pairing not-so-experienced Wondemeneh with another apprentice might backfire. Therefore, an intelligent assessment of the situation followed by wise decision making will be what is expected of the head coach, just one match away from steering the Walia into an historic moment. An attacking option from the very start is a must but equally important will also be the readiness and attentiveness of the back four for any surprise counter- attack. There were some shaky performances in our flanks from both Abebaw Butako and Alula Girma in the first leg. Sewnet needs to address all this and more. Would it be feasable to come up with an all-out attack formation despite having two defensive midfielders in Asrat Megersa and Addis Hensa? Or it might be a good idea to come up with a 4-4-2 diamond formation (An anchorman behind Asrat and Addis then Adane Girma close to the two strikers, Salhadin Said and Getaneh kebede? All this is up to head coach Sewnet Bishaw and his coaching staff.
What is needed from the home supporters is the continuous motivation of our players, by vividly and loudly supporting them during the game to regroup the team spirit which will definitely have an adverse effect on our rivals. It is expected that all fans conduct themselves in a very sportive way leaving nasty name callings, the throwing of objects and the likes to others. As a nation with a long tradition of hospitality, tradition and culture that needs to be emulated, we shall and must conduct ourselves in a dignified manner and always be a shining example, as has always been the case.
In conclusion, even though more than the lions’ share of the responsibility lies on the shoulders’ of the Coach and the players, the home crowd is an undeniable force in helping Ethiopia reach the African Nations Cup final in South Africa.