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Back onstage after 31 years of absence, drawn in group three along with Nigeria, Zambia and Burkina Faso and taking part in three matches: the group opening 1-1
draw with Zambia, a shocking 4-0 defeat at the hands of Burkina Faso and a 2-0 loss to Nigeria, the Ethiopian national team aka “Waliya-Antelope” returned home to a red carpet reception on Friday evening.
Although the return of one of CAF”s founding member was one of the tournament’s big surprise, the record at the end of the campaign showed hard facts of Ethiopians need to consider the standard of its football at the same time making sure that it stays on course.
The first match against defending champion Zambia ended in 1-1 draw. Goalie Jemal Tassew out by a red card in the first half and Salahdin Said missing from the spot, the draw was a big success for a side back from the woods after three decades.
Adane Girma scored a marvelous equalizer the first nations’ cup final goal since Mohammed Shedad scored against Egypt 37 years ago. Many complained when Waliyas head coach Sewnet Bishaw sacrificed play maker Shimeles Bekele who is considered to be one of the best talent the tournament has produced. The second match was a disaster but not only because of the result. Hard working Adane limping off the field fifteen minutes in to the game was the beginning of the day’s chaotic situation.
When holding midfielder Asrat Megersa left the field for groin injury, all hell broke loose in the midfield. Never popular for his tactical ability, head coach Sewnet couldn’t do anything about the situation except pray for the final whistle like every one who was supporting the Waliyas.
Four goals later mercilessly, the whistle went off to herald the end for the much. . The broken hearted Sewnet appeared defeated even before Ethiopia’s game with Nigeria started. He had to line up second fiddlers like Oumed and Alula in what would be Ethiopia’s last game in this year’s African Cup. Nevertheless the match, specially the second half was well played although some credit should be given to the Nigerians clumsiness.
Alula’s lousy foul in the penalty box earned Nigeria the chance to score the first goal then ten minutes later another penalty, this time courtesy of Sisay Bancha who nagged the referee earlier in the game.
With Sisay marching to the dressing room, Addis Hensa came between the wood-work only to bring out the ball from the back of the net.
Why Sewnet made the same mistake of using out all his reserves before he really needed to is hard to explain. The final result stood at 2-0 in favor of Nigeria, leading to Ethiopia leaving the Cup final with a single point.