Addis Ababa, Ethiopia -Ã‚Â Last Saturday, a tumultuous reception was accorded to the Ethiopian National Football team, a.k.a the Walias, whose performance still remains a talking point around town. The euphoria has not yet settled. It is still the subject that sport fans want to hear and talk about, and for good reason too.
The Ethiopian team had been languishing in the shadows of other African nations for a period of over three decades. All these years, one of the founding nations of the African Cup of Nations, the one-time winner of the cup and the three-time host of the games was kept apart from its sister nations, as one unable to qualify for the tournament, for one reason or another.
The national squad, although largely composed from the few contending club teams in the capital, was not absolutely free from feuds and rows among rivals, such as St George FC and Ethiopian Coffee FC, and their respective fans whose support rarely goes beyond verbal appreciation.
Many of the members of these teams, who made no secret of their desire to play football during the Dergue regime, were only able to obtain the golden opportunity of boarding a plane to the finals through their own personal defection. As a consequence, 31 years had to be gauged before the Ethiopian squad could oust their Sudanese rivals last October and earn their ticket to the 29th African Cup of Nations, held in South Africa.
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