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I believe the way we Ethiopians perceive Ethiopian football and football players has been altered the past couple of years. Seeing children and adults wearing the jersey of the Waliyas (national football team) on the streets is really something that is very new in this country.
The Ethiopian Football Federation removed Sewnet Bishaw from the position of head coach to the national team last week. On hearing this, my first thought was that football fans would completely be outraged by it. I thought they would rise up to defend whom they called their hero. But many were surprisingly quiet.
My expectation that people would make noise about this is not because it is the right thing to do but because, we usually react that way when something we are comfortable with suddenly changes.
It has been acknowledged over and over again that former head coach Sewnet did contribute a lot for Ethiopian football. He got us all excited once more about the game, showed us what moving up meant (although it was just for a specific period), as well as what winning meant.
Football has always been a favorite game of many in Ethiopia for a while. Although we were not fans of our own national team, we always had different groups we supported, be it Nigeria or Ghana, or European league teams such as Arsenal or Manchester United.
These couple of years we as a nation have been able to become fans of our own, the reaction to the national team passing on to play on an international stage as big as the African Cup was truly an amazing experience.
But it is all unpredictable in football and we cannot always be on top. We certainly did not do well at the 3rd CHAN Cup final. Ethiopia finished 16th out of sixteen nations, scoring only a single goal.
Many say that Sewnet was known for his talk rather than his technical and tactical ability, but either way, the man must have done something right in order to take the national team to new heights.
This of course doesn’t mean that the man would always lead the team to success, which was evident in the recent performance that got him axed.
But that is how it is, it needs to be result based, something must be achieved, if that is not the case, change is needed, something better is needed.
In most areas in this country and in Africa (and probably everywhere else I suppose) people in certain positions never admit failure or accept change well. They cling to their position until somebody pushes them out. The saying ‘shit or get off the pot) never really applies to them.
In saying this I am not implying that it is what happened in the case of Swenet Bishaw, I am just stating the realities of many instances.
I’m sure everybody or almost everybody is grateful for Swenet’s performance and achievements. Good deeds should always be recognized, and I think the former coach’s achievements have been well acknowledged.
Now it is time to move on, although it was my wish that Swenet’s replacement would also be an Ethiopian, it seems like that may not be the case. But like I said the most important thing is the result, and that is what we should be concerned with.
Hopefully, the coming coach will be even better than the old one, and take the Waliyas to a whole other new level. Can you say African Cup and World Cup? We have a few years to get ready for that.
We already know that our players are good under the right leadership they can be the best.
As for former coach Swenet, it is my hope that he will stay on in a different position. After all, we should be building on what is already there. There is no need to change things that have worked well, we should just modify and add on that.
Wishing luck to both incoming and out going coaches.