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The continent’s former glory, Ethiopia is back in the Africa Cup of Nations for only the second time in 40 years. Coach Wubetu Abate wants to rely on his group of players in the national championship to shine.
The Abyssinian Ibex, future spoilsport for group A? The Horn of Africa team returns to the CAN-2022, determined to create a surprise, thanks to the meticulous work of Wubetu Abate, former star of the team, and by relying on a local football which has been booming in recent years.
Wubetu Abate was appointed head of Walya in September 2020. The federation then asked him to take over from Abraham Mebratu, not renewed due to both insufficient results but also to the Covid-19 pandemic which then had suspended sine die the matches of the selection.
CAN-2022 local coaches
Like its predecessor, Wubetu Abate is a pure product of local football. He had a brief playing career with Pulp and Worket clubs before injury forced him to hang up his boots and turn to coaching. In 2007, his success with Adama City opened the doors to the biggest clubs, starting with Dedebit.
He also went through Commercial Bank of Ethiopia, Hawassa City, Fasil Kenema and Sebeta Town FC. His greatest achievement remains to have guided Ethiopian Coffee to victory in the championship, in 2011.
“It was a dream for me”
“I like challenges and take advantage of them. I face many challenges in my coaching career. The higher the risk, the higher the reward. It was a dream for me to lead the team. Surprisingly, the dream has come true, and I hope to achieve good results during my spell, “said the coach upon taking office.
The federation then sets him two objectives: to qualify for the CAN-2022 and for the 3e qualifying round for the World Cup-2022.
The first objective is accomplished in a beautiful way. Imperial at home, the Abyssinian Ibex capped Madagascar for the second qualifying place in group K, behind an Ivory Coast that it managed to beat (2-1) in Bahir Dar, during the first rally led by Wubetu Abate.
Ethiopia qualified from a tough group thanks to his home victories. She has scored 10 goals in her three home games. Of course, they benefit from the advantage of acclimatization in this high-altitude stadium, “Judge Patrick Julliard, consultant on RFI and specialist in African football, interviewed in the Pod’CAN of our colleagues from RFI.
>> To listen to RFI: Pod’CAN episode 1: party in Cameroon
Wubetu Abate struggled more with his second goal. A home loss to South Africa (1-3) prevented the Walya from playing the spoilsport in a group eventually won by Ghana.
Ethiopian football in full development
“Wubetu Abate is a great connoisseur of this national football and he is able to make the best of the human material available in this championship”, praises Franck Simon, also in Pod’CAN.
A material that has gained in quality in recent years. Indeed, the local championship has become more professional. The government and the federation have invested in new infrastructure – like the Bahir Dar stadium – to bring out local talent. The means are pouring in, in particular thanks to television broadcasting and it is no longer rare to see players from West Africa and foreign technicians playing in Ethiopia.
“It’s a team based on local players who move the ball around. More comfortable with the ball than without. It is also a team that uses a lot of its historical players since a large part of the skeleton was already present during the previous CAN contested in 2013 “, notes Patrick Julliard.
Among these key players are the pair of strikers formed by the iconic captain Getaneh Kebede (Dedebit FC) and Shimelis Bekele (Awassa City FC).
Ethiopia arrives in revenge. However, among the founding fathers of the African Cup, of which she finished in the last four of the first four editions, she has since slipped into second or even third place in the selections of the continent. The Cameroonian CAN will be only its second since 1982. And the previous one, in 2013, was cut short.
“This team is capable of annoying people and will be able to join in the fight for second place (of group A, Editor’s note) “, judge Frank Simon.