Kedus Giorgis (Saint George) defeated old foes Mekelakeya (Defence Force) 4-3 on penalties on Wednesday, 7 July 2016 in Adama, 99-kilometres from the capital, Addis Ababa, to win the Ethiopian Cup for the eleventh time in their history.
Goalkeeper Zerihun Tadele was the hero for the league champions saving two penalties after the heated match ended one-all in regulation time, to send the traveling Giorgis fans into frenzy.
The victory saw the ‘Horsemen’ completed a domestic double after winning the league few weeks ago.
Both sides were in pursuit of the league cup glory with Defence seeking to make a successful defence of the title.
It was Saint George who virtually came close to score through veteran striker Adane Girma, but he couldn’t register his shot on target after a blunder by Defence goalie Jemal Tassew in the fifth minute.
On 14 minutes, a foul on Samuel Saliso resulted in a free kick, and Saliso made the opportunity count with a superb curler to hand Defence the lead.
Saliso was a thorn in the defence of Saint George with his blistering pace giving them backline sleepless nights.
Saint George tried to level matters with efforts from Salahdin Said, Mehari Menna and Natnael Zeleke, nonetheless it was futile. Tassew pulled off a superb save from a Girma header in the closing stage of the interval.
The league champions resumed on an offensive note and five minutes after the break Salahdin failed to convert a glorious chance, as he skied a goal scoring chance from close range.
The ‘Horsemen’ finally got the equalizer through talisman Girma, from the spot after Mohammed Nasser handled in the box in the 57th minute.
Saliso nearly restored Defence’s lead on 77 minutes but his curling shot hit the upright to the relief of their opponents, who ended the game with 10 men after Ethiopian Premier League Most Valuable Player Asechalew Tamene sent off in the closing stages for elbowing his marker.
The game headed straight to penalties and Tadele rose to the occasion saving the kicks of Tedros Tafesse and Tedros Bekele as his team wrapped up victory 4-3 and complete a domestic double.
Meanwhile, Defence will represent Ethiopia in the 2017 CAF Confederation Cup for the second time in a row.
Gebremedhin Haile (Head coach, Defence Force)
The game was good. My team played really well. We deployed a more offensive tactic and it worked in some extent but we were ineffective in converting the chances we had. Since it was a knockout tourney, these things happen. We also had external problems but still it was good match.
Mart Nooij (Head Coach, Saint George)
I think it was a very good game. Defence were also great. It was a game with a lot of ups and downs and the two sides played with a high tempo and that is exceptional in Ethiopia. I think the fans enjoyed the match. We trained seven days a week to get the domestic double. Considering it was our fourth match in eight days, it was tough for us to be physically good in the openings minutes. However, we managed to get back to the game and could have won in the regular time, if it wasn’t for the missed opportunities.