6th African Cup: Ethiopia 1 Ivory Coast 0 – The day Bekure-Tsion Gebrehiwot became a hero

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – The date: January 14, 1968. The place: Haile Selassie I Stadium. The match: Ethiopia vs the Ivory Coast. The occasion: 6th African Cup Group A match. The hero of the day: Bekure-Tsion Gebrehiwot, a solid defender from Hamassein, Eritrea.

Host Ethiopia, Uganda, Algeria and the Ivory Coast were drawn in Group A in Addis Ababa. The tournament kicked off on January 12, 1968, with Ethiopia beating Uganda 2-1 and the Ivory Coast defeating Algeria 3-0.

Right winger Girma Asmerom (current Eritrea’s Ambassador to Belgium) and Luciano Vassalo (penalty) scored for Ethiopia, while a young and gifted Laurent Pokou, scored twice for the Ivory Coast.

The two teams met two days later. The Ethiopian team, despite the unwavering support from fans and all its efforts and chances it created, couldn’t penetrate the Ivorian defense. As the game approached the dying minutes, fans started to leave the stadium dejected by the lack of victory. Suddenly, an unlikely hero emerged to save the day for Ethiopia. With just 4 minutes left for the game, Bekure-Tsion Gebrehiwot, a right back defender who played his club football for Hamassein FC (later changed to Asmara FC) scored the winning goal with a canon like shot from 30m away.

This magnificent goal remains the only goal that he scored for the Ethiopian national team. Bekure-Tsion played 47 times for Ethiopia, and he is still remembered and glorified to this day for that memorable goal.

Thank you Bekure-Tsion for that memorable goal!

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The great Luciano Vassalo during the 1968 Ethiopia vs Ivory Coast encounter

Ethiopia and the Ivory Coast met 3 times at the national team level, with Ethiopia winning once (1-0) and losing twice (1-0 & 6-1).

6th African Cup: Addis Ababa

01-12-1968: Group A Match: Ethiopia 1 Ivory Coast 0 (Bekure Tsion Gebrehiwot)

01-21-1968: 3rd Place: Ethiopia 0 Ivory Coast 0 (Laurent Pokou)

Ethiopia’s Line-up:

Goalkeeper: Getachew Abebe”Dula” (St. George, Addis Ababa)

Defenders: Bekure-Tsion Gebrehiwot (Hamasein, Asmara), Kiflom Araya (Tele, Asmara), Abraha Araya (Embasoira, Asmara) and Awad Mohammed (St. George, Addis Ababa)

Midfielders: Tesfaye Gebre-Medhin “Wedi Kechin” (Tele, Asmara) , Fesseha Wolde-Amanuel (St. George, Addis Ababa) and Luciano Vassalo (Cotton, Dire Dawa)

Forwards: Girma Asmerom (Dagnew, Addis Ababa), Mengistu Workou (St. George, Addis Ababa), and Shoangizaw Agonafer (St. George, Addis Ababa)

7th African Cup: Khartoum

02-10-1970: Ivory Coast 6 Ethiopia 1

Ivory Coast: [Losseni 16, Laurent Pokou 21, 60, 71, 80, 87

Ethiopia: Mengistu Worku 33

Ethiopia’s Line-up:

Goalkeeper: Amde-Michael (Electric, Addis Ababa)

Defenders: Bekure-Tsion Gebrehiwot (Hamasein, Asmara), Afework Tsegaye (Tele, Asmara), Gezehegn Manyazewal (Dagnew, Addis Ababa), Berhe Goitom (Electric, Addis Ababa)

Midfielders: Getachew Abdo (St. George, Addis Ababa), Jemil Hassen (Tele, Asmara) and Fesseha Wolde-Amanuel (UCLA, California)*

Forwards: Tekeste (Embasoira, Asmara), Mengistu Work (St. George, Addis Ababa) and Shoangizaw Agonafer (UCLA, California)*.

*Following the 1968 Olympic Olympics in Mexico, Fesseha and Shoangizaw were awarded athletics scholarships at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). So, when the 7th African Cup was held in Sudan, they were called back by the Ethiopian federation.

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