By Fredrick Nadulli,
You got to love the spirit of the Ethiopia Walia Ibex we remember the high flying team of 2013 when every football voice across Africa spoke about them.
Some may say Ethiopia has fallen from grace to grass but I think Ethiopia can jump start the engine and rise again.
Ethiopia earned rave reviews when they qualified for the African Cup of Nations in 2013 after thirty one odd years. That milestone achievement united a hitherto football loving nation.
For a moment, cultural and ethnocentric differences if at all any existed took a back seat as the football-mad country came together in blind and total solidarity in support of Walia .If yesterday’s success is echoed from one corner of this continent to another, so too is today’s failure which can be adjusted appropriately to bring back glory.
Under respected coach Sewnet Bishaw, the nippy Ethiopians displayed silky football the real Tiki Taka that was laced with beautiful combination tempered with poise and elegance ensured they were rewarded with qualification for Africa’s biggest stage, the Afcon in 2013. Qualification in itself was a massive achievement after decades of heartache and near-misses.
In the same year, they made it to the CHAN in South Africa, a tourney equivalent to the Afcon but restricted to players plying their trade in the continent, as the Walia star continued to rise as they reached the penultimate stage of the World Cup 2014 qualifers with the play offs against Nigeria who subsequently qualified.
A first round exit however put paid to their to their chances and with the subsequent election of a new administration, Bishaw was chucked overboard. Incoming FA president Junedin Basha, eager for a fresh start, appointed Mariano Barreto A calm man with a vision but he was not lucky enough.
His stay at the helm was rather lukewarm and forgetable but also had it fair sides of positives as he gave the youth a chance and yes they proved they deserved the positions playing like seasoned national team players. ThePortuguese conjuring a paltry single win, against Mali, in the 2015 Afcon qualifying campaign. His contract was terminated on mutual consent at the end of April and in came former Ethiopian International Yohannes Sahle who replaced him on the hot seat.
STOP GAP PROGRESS
In hindsight, the Ethiopians were making good strides and the whole continent, as expected, began to take notice. Several top Walia performers made it to bigger leagues across Africa. Coupled with a passionate following, the Ethiopian wave was unstoppable.New coach Yohannes Sahle is a capable pair of hands with experience garnered right from his playing days before he moved to the USA.Giving former International born and bred in Ethiopia is a welcome relief and good deed by the office led by astute Junedin Basha.Sahle has the eye that will bring back the flair because he understands Ethiopia’s football culture better being a local and foremost renowned player.
Many pundits may say that Somehow, along the way, their fortunes nose-dived and took a turn for the worse. Admittedly, making recovery from such slips is never easy but I say no way Ethiopia have all it takes to rise and be among the best again.. The people of Abbysinia have the unenviable task of pulling together to get their talented team back among the big boys.
Players, management, administration and the ever passionate fans have it in their hands to salvage the great Walia Ship and get back the glory days of 2013 where the whole of Africa sang Walia Walia Walia.