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The 2018 Ethiopian Knock-out championship round one brings together Premier League defending champion Saint George in a head on clash against Cup holders Wolayta Dicha while last year’s finalist Mekelakya entertains Diredawa.
Unlike many footballing nations that leave the format open for every club including amateur ones to take part, notorious for its incompetency and disorganization, the Ethiopian Football Federation opted for a championship comprised of only the 16 Premier League sides. Although the Federation blamed the clubs for declining participation, critics believe the Federation could have obliged the clubs with some ultimatum had it been ready for the championship. “It was a halfhearted effort and the clubs’ knew that,” a critic remarked.
This time the championship is taking place at different venues and Addis Ababa will host four of the eight showdowns. The other four matches are to be held in Gondor, Hawassa, Mekele and Jimma.
Seventh in the league table Ethiopia Bunna entertains 9th place Woldya in Addis Ababa while bottom of the table Arbaminch travels to Mekele to face Welwalo-Adigrat. The fixtures’ biggest clash is between current league leaders Dedebit FC and second place Jimma AbaJIfar the face-off taking place in Jimma.
The dream of retaining the league title for a record four times coming in to danger, Saint George is expected to go for the knock out crown thus taking at home in high moral ground Wolayta Dicha. Round one’s biggest derby match takes place in Hawassa between the hosts and Sidama Bunna while relegation struggler Ethio-Electric entertains third in the table Mekele.