We want to be the first generation to qualify in 31 years – Degu

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Full back Degu Debebe is the Ethiopian national football team captain and he leads his team-mates into a major battle this weekend in Addis Ababa against Sudan in the final qualifier for 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. Debebe told Cafonline.com ahead of the crucial encounter that, he would like the current Ethiopian side to be the one to end the 31 year long wait to reach AFCON finals.

Cafonline.com: What do you expect in Sunday’s encounter against Sudan?
Debebe: We have had very good preparation for this match and in our training session most of the time we concentrated on team work and coordination. Everybody knows that we have just one chance and the goal is to win by the required score to make it through. We have to play offensive football from the start.
Cafonline.com: Do you think you will break their defensive play?
Debebe: I have seen two opposite results against two teams who played defensive and destructive football here in Addis Ababa. The first was against Benin in which we managed to finish goalless. Of course we had more than three clear scoring opportunities in that match. The second was against the Central African Republic. We won 2-0 with a Saladin Seid double. In the second match we improved on our weaknesses. This time we are in a much better position.
Cafonline.com: You seem confident of victory?
Debebe: Yes, winning is a probability. Our team had the experience to score goals even in the away matches. We scored three goals in Khartoum. They didn’t expect our side to perform so well in the first leg. We scored goals in South Africa and Benin. Now we have the finishing experience.
Cafonline.com: Is that because Saladin Seid will be in the line up?
Debebe: No, no that is not the case. There is no doubt that Saladin Seid is a good goal scorer. I played with him at the national level and as a club mate. I know his quality. But we were able to score four goals in his absence. He was not in the line up when we played against Benin and Sudan. This means we have other players with good scoring capacity. His addition for the Sunday match will strengthen our position.
Cafonline.com: The Sudanese scored five goals does this mean Ethiopian defence is fragile?
 Debebe: Well, we made two goalkeeping blunders. We also made defensive errors. That cost us a lot. Knowing this we worked hard to correct these mistakes. I don’t expect the same kind of mistakes to be repeated this time round.
Cafonline.com: Visiting teams usually play more defensive football but if Sudan come to attack from the start how will you deal with that?
Debebe: Our preparation is multidimensional. In all aspects we are ready to give them hard challenge. The Addis Ababa high altitude doesn’t give them breathing space to play attacking football all throughout. Even if they try it will be to our advantage. In any way they come, we are determined to win. In my life time no Ethiopian team played in the African Nations Cup final. We want to be the first generation to take part in final of the Nations Cup in 31 years. That is great for us and we will fight to the end to turn that dream into reality.

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