Ethiopia, Africa’s Sleeping Soccer Giant, Starts to Stir (The New York Times)

The men's national soccer team of Ethiopia has come a long way since it was barred from even attempting to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. (Getty Images)

The New York Times

By BENNO MUCHLER

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Less than a week before the most important match in its history, Ethiopia’s national soccer team trained on a wet, uneven field on the outskirts of the capital. Nearby, a woman hung her wash on a clothesline. Birds of prey circled overhead, and sometimes a plane flew past at low altitude, coming from the capital’s busy airport, which a few months ago added a connection to Rio de Janeiro.

The timing could not have been better. Ethiopia will face Nigeria on Sunday in the first leg of one of five home-and-home playoffs that will determine the five African teams in next summer’s World Cup in Brazil. A few years after it was barred from even attempting to qualify for the 2010 World Cup, Ethiopia is two games from reaching the tournament for the first time.

Read more at The New York Times.

Also see: Juneidin Basha appointed new Ethiopia FA president (BBC Sport)

Ethiopia vs. Nigeria: The History of a Contest


Getaneh Kebede has been ruled out of Sunday’s match against Nigeria due to injury. This article reviews the footballing history between Ethiopia and Nigeria ahead of their Match this weekend. (Getty Images)

Goal.com

By Demola Dawodu

Nigerians are looking forward to the World Cup Qualifying double-header against the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia with cautious optimism. The Super Eagles may possess a multi-talented group of players, but they will be acutely aware of the threats posed by their hosts.

Nigeria are ranked 36th in the world and 4th in Africa, with the Antelopes a distant 93rd in the FIFA rankings and 25th in the continental hierarchy. On paper, the gulf in class is colossal, but Ethiopia are an emerging force in African football. The East African side qualified for the last Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa after a 31-year absence and finished top of their World Cup qualifying group ahead of Bafana Bafana, even after being docked three points for fielding an ineligible player.

The Antelopes, coached by Sewnet Bishaw, are known for their slick passing and the high pressing game they exhibited at the last AFCON. However, the relative inexperience of the side might just be their undoing against a vastly talented Nigerian side who are, let us not forget, the reigning African champions. The Ethiopians, with their squad predominantly based in the nation’s top flight, may struggle against the diverse array of superstars that Stephen Keshi can call upon.

The two teams have met seven times before, with Nigeria winning four of those matches. Ethiopia recorded a famous victory against the Super Eagles in a 1994 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, while two further fixtures have ended in draws.

The two countries first locked horns at the 1982 AFCON in Libya, where Nigeria defeated Ethiopia 3-0. The current Super Eagles coach, the aforementioned Keshi, grabbed a brace on that eventful day. Ademola Adeshina also found the net.

The second meeting was an international friendly at the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, in 1993 which the Eagles won by a goal to nil.

The sole Ethiopian victory was a 1-0 triumph on home soil in April 1993.

Read more at Goal.com.


Ethiopia 2 Games Away From Football History (Associated Press)


Ethiopian supporters celebrate during the African Cup of Nations in Nelspruit, South Africa, Jan. 21 2013. The Walyas are now just two games away from qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. (Photo: AP)

By GERALD IMRAY, AP Sports Writer

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — In African football, it’s usually the unexpected marvels that capture the world’s attention.

In 1990, it was Cameroon’s stunning win over Argentina and its subsequent path to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, highlighted by Roger Milla’s iconic hip-wiggling dance at the corner flag. In 2002, it was Senegal defeating world champion France at the showcase tournament, prompting fans to slaughter cockerels, the French mascot, on the streets of Dakar.

Now, Ethiopia is just two games away from achieving another feat that once seemed inconceivable — simply reaching the 2014 World Cup.

What a story that would be.

Read more at San Francisco Chronicle.

Related:
Injured Striker Getaneh Kebede to Miss Sunday’s Game Against Nigeria (BBC Sport)

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