By Zecharias Zelalem
Ethiopian football has long relied on the local league to produce talent worthy of wearing the colours of the national team. Unlike other African nations who can almost exclusively count on an array of outsourced talents spread out across Europe and Asia, tomorrow’s Walyas are very likely to be playing keep ball in the parks and fields of Awassa and Arbaminch today. The Ethiopian national team players who eventually succeed enough to earn high paying moves abroad have done so after excelling in the Ethiopian Premier League. The likes of Addis Hintsa, Getaneh Kebede, Omod Okori and Salahdin Said come to mind as the some of the current generation’s most well known exports. This is significant in the sense that our league, despite not being up to par competition wise with the continental heavyweights nor being as financially lucrative as the likes of Sudan and South Africa, is still a valuable asset capable of producing generation changing shocks. Despite boasting financially stronger leagues, both Sudan and South Africa were knocked out of qualifying for the 2013 AFCON and 2014 World Cup respectively by Ethiopia.
Because of this, there is a tendency to observe every crook and nanny, every blade of grass kicked in the Ethiopian game. What I’m trying to say is that since Ethiopia’s much feted returned to international footballing prominence, our league has taken on a higher importance for many Ethiopian sports fans.
The partisan die hard supporting of a club has been around for ages. But now there’s a third eye view of fans looking out to see what benefits and what harms national team aspirations. Which players should be playing, which youngster should be given a chance, the emergence of a new goalkeeper that can take over from the usually less than competent keepers whose constant blunders have our hearts reaching our mouths every time an opposing team swings a cross towards our goal. In the spirit of this “third eye view” free of club politics and bias, I take a look at how the big three of Ethiopian Coffee, Saint George and Dedebit have knowingly or unknowingly harmed our national team’s aspirations. I’ll start with the defending champions.
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