Ethiopian national football team has been in camp since mid- September preparing for a clash with Nigeria in their crucial first leg World Cup play-off that will take place at the Addis Ababa stadium on Sunday 13 October. Cafonline.com spoke with the head Coach Sewnet Bishaw ahead of the match.
What are your expectations for Sunday’s match?
Bishaw: We have never reached the World Cup final before but we believe there is time for Ethiopia to get a place in that global football bonanza.
This year we have reached this decisive group of ten where we have only two matches to play to make the World Cup finals. It is a do-or-die situation. I personally believe that on Sunday we don’t have any other option than to win
The Nigerians are highly favoured to go through but you sound confident of a win over a strong opponent, why is that?
I know that Nigeria is one of the football power houses of Africa. They have appeared four times at the World Cup finals in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010. But one must be aware that it’s not always the strong side that wins in the football competition. The results are determined after 90 minutes. We are the outsiders from the start.
Nigerians didn’t get this big name by one stroke. Our successive wins in the qualifiers have given us belief and we have risen on the FIFA ranking. Within Africa we have already begun to gain reputation. So now we target to win over the strong Nigerian side and aim to take our country to the World Cup finals.
The home fans expect your words to be realized.
This is a football match. We go to the pitch to win. But this doesn’t mean that the team that really wants success the most will win. If there is a set- back, we have to accept it. This is football. We will do everything possible to win but if that is not realized our home fans must prepare themselves to accept the result as it is.
Some of the national players had the continental club competition. Due to this they were not together with others. Did this affect you?
Well almost all players have been together since mid -September. At first we had two times training in a day but now we do only once a day. Their condition is quite good, the spirit is high and they are highly inspired to make history for their country and themselves.
Your side’s top striker Getaneh Kebede is injured. Do you think he will be ready for Sunday?
Yes, Getaneh had injury problem while playing for his club in South Africa and has been sidelined for some time. After joining the national side this week I didn’t get an assurance from the doctors that he will be fit to play the coming Sunday. He is a key player for us but if he is not fit we have others equally competent strikers.
The good news is that all other players are in good health. Saladin Seid, Shimeles Bekele and Addis Hintsa who are returned from their clubs are in good form. So there is no worry in the absence Getaneh Kebede.