Ethiopia Returns to Nations Cup After 31-Year Absence

Posted January 9th, 2013 at 8:22 pm (UTC-4)

Ethiopian football fans are excited to see their national team return to the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in South Africa after a 31-year absence. The Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia are in Group C for the African football fiesta, along with Nigeria, Burkina Faso and defending Nations Cup champion Zambia.

Ethiopia will play Zambia January 21st in its opening match in South Africa’s northeastern city of Nelspruit. According to Ethiopia’s captain, defender Degu Debebe, his team has been inspired by the Zambians.

Degu Debebe

“We have seen how the Zambian team performed at the last AFCON,” said Degu. “No one expected them to beat the big countries and take the Cup. But they did. That is because they were playing as a team and they didn’t overestimate any team. They played their part and they gave their best. That is the secret. If you believe you can do something and give your best, nothing is impossible. Everything is possible. We can learn a lesson from them and make possible what seems impossible.”

It’s not impossible for Ethiopia to advance out of Group C, but it’s unlikely. Top African football analysts, including Sonny Side of Sports African soccer guru David Legge, are going with Nigeria and Zambia to reach the quarterfinals.

Coach Sewnet Bishaw

Ethiopia’s head coach, Sewnet Bishaw, realizes his players will be experiencing the Nations Cup spotlight for the first time, and he’s been trying to boost their confidence. “We have qualified after 31 years and our players are new at AFCON,” says the Ethiopian coach. “They are not new at the game, they are not new professional players, but they are new for the competition itself … But by playing different friendly matches I am sure we will make their psychology up.”

Ethiopia can get one psychological boost from being a Nations Cup pioneer. The team played at the inaugural Africa Cup of Nations in 1957, along with Egypt and host Sudan. Ethiopia won its only Nations Cup championship in 1962, when it hosted the tournament.




Sonny Young
Since 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

11 responses to “Ethiopia Returns to Nations Cup After 31-Year Absence”

  1. Ashenafi Abedje says:

    Another inspiring blog, Sonnyman. A word of advice: never underestimate the underdogs. If an Ethiopian can run an entire marathon barefooted, why can’t a team of Ethiopians kick a ball fully foot geared?

  2. I congratulate heartily the Ethiopian team for qualifying for the final stage of the African Cup of nations. HURRRAA
    A Somali in the UK, London

  3. Sonny Young says:

    I love your enthusiasm, Ashenafi Abedje! Thank you for your comments.

  4. Ivory says:

    sonny young, I appreciate your article but I think that this team will beat or equalize with Zambia. Our striker Saladine Said is the one to watch and Zambia has lost 3 friendlies they are looking rather weak. My hope is for Ethiopia to at least make it out of this group. Cote d’Ivoire might take the cup.

  5. Ethiopian says:

    Go Ethiopia!
    If not, any African team will do of course!

  6. […] Related: Ethiopia Returns to Nations Cup After 31-Year Absence (VOA News) Ethiopia Hold Tunisia to Draw in Warmup Match for African Nations Cup (Yahoo Sports) Late Ticket […]

  7. Sonny,I like the courage of the “Walya Antelopes” in their build up to the Nations Cup.It’s a good one,but they should not neglect the obvious and that is the experience and determination of their rivals.I think their chance for now is 50 50,just like any other team in the group.
    I wish the Super Eagles all the best.And i do hope that we will come first in the group.

  8. […] competition, Ethiopian fans around the world (some already on their way to South Africa) are excited to see their country return to the Africa Cup after three decades of […]

  9. observer says:

    I have said this before – and I am saying it again!
    Oh, you want good team spirit? Well change your name to the old team deserved name – BLACK LIONS! How could any one talk about ‘upping’ the psychology when you are naming yourself with a f****g endangered desert goat name? Why would you wanna be a vulnerable mountain goat ‘which anyone can easily hunt and consume’ in an African Cup of Nations?

    You need to call yourself and act like the BLACK LIONS soaring from the mountains in east africa . . .or atleast die trying . . .

    Boosting your psychology starts from your own self -mage. The basics, Psychology 101, Mr. COACH!

    I thought that was obvious, apparently not!

  10. This is the Peace and Transformation dividend for Ethiopia, where its youths for the first time after 40 years of Red and White Terror (Chinese and Russian Revolution) consumed two generations in the bush and most were maimed both physically and psychologically not to matter in the sports and atheletics field and specially soccer that needs extensive group practice.

    Now for the past 20 years there has been a lul in the life of youth and the new generation has been able to practise music, sports and academics for change.

    So the psychological issue is critical after 40 years of no connection to the international field of sports and competition

    One cannot appreciate this Great Transformation in Ethiopian Youths from Bush terror to field soccer!

    Surely this is a landmark, so long as we keep the terror plotters in jail and work closely with US and International Intelligence Communities to continue to transfer knowledge instead of AR 15 and AK 45 converting our youths as agents of terror.

    So, please do not undermine nor discount this Great Transformation- Wishing the Ethiopian Team success, and

    Seeking your alternative perspective, I remain

    Belai Habte-Jesus, MD, MPH

  11. I never even realised that Ethiopia has been absent for that long from the Africa Nations Cup – coming to think of it i had never seen Ethiopia playing football before until their recent World Cup qualifying matches against Nigeria in 2013, which they lost out on.

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Sonny Side of Sports is an energetic and action-packed look at both world and African sports, broadcast on radio, TV and the Internet. Since the show’s creation in 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

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