The Black Lions of Ethiopia: “You will never walk alone!!!!!”
That is an endearing message and a solemn promise made by colorful black lion’s fans ahead of their team’s final group C match against the Super Eagles of Nigeria on Tuesday 29 Jan 2013.
Despite off-field wrangles, the unpatriotic Sahilu Gebrewold’s nauseating groveling and the harassment by the minority junta’s cadres, Ethiopians won’t abandon the national team.
Isolated from their fans, it is understandable that both the likeable gaffer Sewnet Bishaw and the players are working under extreme duress; but for now the focus must be on the decisive battle of the two giants.
Can the wounded black lions obliterate the Super Eagles and charge into the playoffs?
Judging by what the lowly Cape Verde did to the overrated Angola, anything is possible. If Sewnet once again gets his team selection and tactics right a huge upset is on the card for wary Nigerians.
Coach Swenet has an array of talent at his disposal to form an ironclad defense. The combination of the temperamental Aynalem Hailu, ‘Mr no-nonsense’ Berhanu Bogale, Abebaw Butako and Biadgelegn Elias with midfield hard man Yared Zinabu (as midfield destroyer) protecting them, have all the ability to keep Nigeria’s only striker, Iminike, at bay.
The black lion’s short comings are their wing play and the goal keeping department. Although the intricate display of our two under rated midfielders Behailu Assefa and Minyahil Teshome is a marvel to watch, From what we have observed our national team didn’t produce wingers capable of initiating devastating counter attacks in the mould of yester year stars Mohamed Osman(Mig) and Bitew Abire.
The flying little man Shemeles Bekele is only an impact player who can come onto the field at later stage to produce some magic. We believe it is time to look at the likes of Yusuf Saleh and Dawit Estifanos.
Furthermore, with the Bruce Lee styled acrobatic goal minder Jemal Tassew still out, the black lions needs physically stronger Sisay Bancha between the sticks for the game against the powerful Nigerians.
If the US based Fuad Ibrahim partners Saladin Said upfront and gets good supplies, the black lions have the quality to bury the Super Eagles under avalanche of goals and advance further in the 29th edition of Afcon 2013.
With 13,000 fans singing “Atinesam woye”, miraculous victory is a strong possibility.