Africa Cup of Nations: Ethiopia’s readiness
The pundits have noted that this is the first time that Ethiopia has qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations after 31 years, opening a new chapter in its football history.
Most recently, the under-rated national team proved that football is not played through careless talk and predictions, but rather by the mental state of players and their agility to express themselves on the pitch.
Already, the Ethiopians have advanced in the Confederation of African Football (CAF) group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in to be played in Brazil with a 5-0 aggregate victory over Somalia and as a result, they have joined South Africa, Botswana and Central African Republic (CAR) in Group A.
Ethiopia tied with South Africa away from home and beat CAR 2-0 at home to top the group after the first two games.
The Ethiopians are one of the three original teams (along with Egypt and Sudan) to participate in the inaugural Africa Cup of Nations in 1957 and they finished second.
Hosts Ethiopia won the competition in 1962, but in the next tournament of 1968, again on home soil, the team finished in third place after losing to Ivory Coast.
Success has been elusive since then for them as in 1976 they failed to progress to the final four, finishing third in the group, behind Guinea and hosts Egypt.
In 1977, they played against Mauritius in the qualifiers for the 1978 Africa Cup of Nations. After 4-2 win on aggregate, they had to play Uganda. After a nil-nil score in the first leg, Uganda won the second match 2-1, and progressed to the final tournament.
The Ethiopians also missed the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations. Ethiopia last qualified for the tournament in 1982, under Coach Mengistu Worku.
They are currently ranked 118th in the world, according to the FIFA world rankings, and 33rd in CAF rankings. The national team succeeded in qualifying for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations after a 31-year absence.
In qualifying for CAN 2013, Ethiopia drew 1-1 away with Benin after a goalless draw in the first leg to progress to the last round of qualification.
In the last round of qualification, Ethiopia drew 5-5 in aggregate score, but passed to the African championships due to the away goal rule.
In brief, no one should underrate the hardworking Ethiopians, least of all their well-known CAN rivals Burkina Faso, Nigeria, and Zambia – the current African champions.
Source: Sports pundits