The Ethiopian national team, the Walias, will open their account to book a place for the 2017 African Cup of Nations (Afcon 2017) on Sunday as they take on Lesotho in the newly-built Bahir Dar stadium.
Yohannis Sahle selected a 24-man squad from a pool of 44 players in two training sessions a fortnight ago. The coach’s selection has a mix of experience and new talent with nearly half of his players not playing for the national side before.
Lacking good quality strikers from the domestic league, the coach was forced to place his hopes abroad in that department. As such, strikers Salahdin Said, Umod Ukuri and Getaneh Kebede, who are playing for El Ahly (Egypt), Al Ittihad (Egypt) and Bidvest Wits (South Africa), respectively, are included in his selection including midfielder Shemelis Bekele, who plays for the Egyptian side Petro Jet.
But Walid Ata, an Ethiopian-Swedish footballer who currently plays for Genclerbirligi SK in Turkey, is not included in the side due to a knee injury. Similarly goalkeeper Jemal Tassew will miss tomorrow’s action due to injury and as his replacement Tedros Getahun, who plays for Dashen Beer, is included in the squad.
In his first match in charge of the Walias, Yohannis lost 1-0 to Zambia, nicknamed Chipolopolos, in a friendly match in Addis Ababa last Sunday. But the coach can take some heart in the performance of some of his new recruits particularly in the defensive department. The result could have also been different had Biniam Assefa, who plays his club football for Ethiopia Coffee, converted the penalty awarded to his side.
But the Walias coach Yohannes said, the friendly match will help the new players to get the much-needed experience ahead of CHAN (African Nations Championship) qualifier fixture against Kenya next week.
The Ethiopian national side traveled to Bahir Dar on Monday and was warmly welcomed by residents of the city excited about the prospect of seeing the national team playing for the first time in their city. The Lesotho squad arrived in the city of Bahir Dar on Thursday.
The official explanation given by the Ethiopian Football Federation for the match to be held in Bahir Dar is rainy weather in the capital where the match was originally expected to be held. The 60,000 seat capacity Bahir Dar stadium was recently given recognition to host international matches.
EFF revised ticket price on Wednsday with the minimum set at 10 birr and the maximum fixed at 700 birr. With many football enthusiasts in the city as well as travelers from Addis Ababa and elsewhere, EFF expects supporters well over the stadium’s capacity.
Ethiopia is placed in Group J together with top-ranked African team Algeria, Lesotho and Seychelles. In the other match of the group, Algeria will host Seychelles today. In the second qualifying game, Ethiopian national team will travel to Algeria on 25 March next year to face a crunch match against the North African giants at Stade Mustapha Tchaker.
Source: The Reporter