By Collins Okinyo
It is without doubt that 2013 should be regarded as a vintage year for Ethiopian football as the game had a seemingly endless capacity for delivering excitement, intrigue and fantastic tiki taka football.
The last12 months have seen tremendous growth as the Ethiopian national team nicknamed the Walia were the pride of the country as they qualified for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations hosted in South Africa, reached the playoffs of the 2014 World Cup and qualified for the 2014 Chan.
Supersport.com gives you are a brief round trip of the year that was for Ethiopian football.
Having qualified for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 31 years, the continental tourney opened a new chapter in the history of not only football but sports in Ethiopia.
Ethiopia defied all odd to draw 1-1 with 2012 champions Zambia in their opener, before falling 4-0 to Burkina Faso and another 2-0 to eventual champions Nigeria to end the fairy run.
It was a relatively quiet month as Ethiopia under coach Sewnet Bishaw were quietly preparing for the upcoming 2014 Fifa World cup qualifications in earnest as they hoped to build on the experience gained from Afcon 2013.
Ethiopia who were in Group A tied with South Africa 1-1 and beat Central Africa Republic 2-0 at home to top the group after the first two matches.
They then beat Botswana twice 1-0 at home in Addis Ababa and 2-1 away in Botswana.
However things suddenly changed when Ethiopia was charged for fielding an ineligible player Minyael Teshome and the second leg win was later awarded to Botswana by a score of 3-0.
The set back did however not deter the rise of Walia who beat South Africa 2-1.Ethiopia played their last group game with CAR on September 6th and beat them 2-1 to secure a play off mouth watering game against Nigeria Super Eagles.
The playoffs which were a do or die affair made the whole country believe in the dream of qualifying for the top football show piece the World Cup 2014 to be hosted in Brazil.
However Nigeria proved a hard nut to crack and on October 13 in Addis, Ethiopia fell 1-2 at home with the referee on the spot light for what looked like a denied Ethiopian goal by Salhadin Said.
The return match on November 16th in Calabar ended EthiopiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s World cup hopes as Nigeria won by a convincing 2-0 win to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
There was however redemption of sorts for Ethiopia when they secured a place in the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals in South Africa beating Rwanda in post match penalties as Minyahil Teshome rose from being villain to hero with his last spot kick that secured Walia the dream place .
Ethiopia Walia also managed to reach the 2013 GOtv Cecafa cup semifinals after a gruelling run.
Even despite the ongoing World Cup qualifiers the elections went ahead and the incumbent GebreWold Gebremariam lost his seat to incoming former Harar Beer Managing director Jenedin Bashah who took over the helm for another 4 year .
The Big Blunder:
The lowest moment for the Ethiopian football is when it Fifa announced they will be docked three points for fielding an ineligible player Minyael Teshome against Botswana. The news came as a thunderbolt to the fanatic Ethiopian fans who castigated the federation leading to the sacking of the Secretary General Afeworki.
The same blunder played a huge role in bringing down the regime of Gebremariam who was ousted in the elections but little known Junedin Bashah.
Ethiopian Premier League:
Dedebit football club become the Champions of the Ethiopian Premier League – Meles Cup 2012/13. Dedebit become champion beating Hawassa Kenema on May 25, 2013 4 – 2 with goals from Addis Hintsa, Adamu Muhammed, Dawit Fikadu and Getaneh Kebede.
Getaneh Kebede who has since moved to Bidvest Wits in the South African league finished as the top scorer with 22 goals with Dawit Fikadu scoring 18 goals.
It was a stellar year for Ethiopia The Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia were among the teams nominated by Caf for the 2013 Glo-Caf national team of the year.
Also nominated were Salhadin Said on the list of 25 African player of the year award as well as Getaneh Kebede and Adane Girma nominated for the African player of the year award for African based players.
The year was a bright one for Ethiopian Barclays Premier league lovers as Ethiopian descent Gedion Zelalem caught the eyes of Arsene Wenger.Zelalem drew praise for several strong performances in youth matches and in the senior team’s Asia Tour of July 2013.
Zelalem is eligible to play for Ethiopia,Germany and the United States.