Wednesday Apr 07, 2021. 12:00
Ethiopia national team coach Wobetu Abate and captain Getaneh Kebede have expressed their pride at leading the Walias to qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations last week.
The East Africans finished second in Group K, booking their first ticket to the AFCON since 2013 in dramatic style last Wednesday: they lost their final game 3-1 away to table-toppers Ivory Coast, but Madagascar could only draw 0-0 at home to Niger and finished a point behind Ethiopia.
“I was wishing that the match [in Abidjan] would be played at 16:00 [GMT] because playing at 13:00 was very challenging,” Ethiopia skipper Kebede is quoted by CAFOnline.
“The weather was very tough for us with heat and humidity. Before the game, I wanted us to go with courage.
“I had hoped for one point, but it was not possible. However, the most important thing for us is that we qualified and that is all we needed. I am really happy to have been part of the team that achieved this qualification.”
The driving force behind Ethiopia’s return to the continental tournament was Abate, who replaced Abraham Mebatu just before their back-to-back games with Niger in November last year.
“Our people absolutely love football, and we have achieved our Africa Cup of Nations dream to make them happy,” said the Walias’ coach.
“The Ethiopians deserve this. Now our focus is to build on our team. We will prepare well for the upcoming AFCON as well as the World Cup qualifiers in June.”
Ethiopia will face South Africa, Ghana and Zimbabwe in Group G of the journey to Qatar 2022.