New dawn for Ethiopia after Nations Cup qualification

By Durosimi Thomas – BBC Sport

To aim high sometimes pays dividends. Ethiopia were busy planning how to qualify for their first ever World Cup in 2014. Now they are celebrating a return to the Africa Cup of Nations after a wait of three decades.

The Waliya Antelopes are top of Group A in the African zone of World Cup qualifiers, but reaching the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa marks a new dawn for the country.

The Ethiopians beat Sudan 2-0 in Addis Ababa last Sunday to qualify for their first continental finals since 1982 on the away goals rule, after the tie had ended 5-5 on aggregate.

If the celebrations in Meskel Square in the heart of Addis Ababa were anything to go by, then it is clear that 85 million Ethiopians are ready to reclaim their lost heritage as one of the pioneers of the African game when they play in their 10th finals since 1957.

“We’ve made it due to the hard work and unity in the squad,” coach Sewnet Bishaw told BBC Sport.

“We trained very well and the players were highly disciplined. This has helped us to be successful.

“I was always confident. We made silly mistakes in Sudan and also, due to some refereeing errors, gifted them with two late penalties, but I always knew we could make it.”

Amid the celebration, some Ethiopians would be forgiven for forgetting that their national team are former African champions. More than half of the current population was not yet born when the Antelopes won the Nations Cup in 1962. Read more

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