The team received a well deserved applause from Ethiopian fans all over the world.
The Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia crashed out of AFCON 2013 hosted in South Africa after losing two consecutive group matches against Burkina Faso and Nigeria’s Super Eagles.
During its second game of the competition, the Burkina Faso Stallions convincingly beat Ethiopia 4-0. Ethiopia had the first chance of the match when a lovely one-two allowed star striker Saladin Seid lay the ball for Shimeles Bekele who shot at goal rebound of the post. Then Ethiopia was forced to make a substitution when its first game hero Adane Girma was unable to continue playing due to injury. The clinical stallions took the lead in the first half after Alaine Traore controlled a flying ball and struck a fierce shot leaving Ethiopian goal keeper Zerihun with no chance. The antelopes were pushing forward early in the second half when the Burkina goalie handled the ball outside the penalty area and was given his matching orders. With only 10 men playing Burkina Faso started defending deep and used a quick counter-attack game to defend their lead. Their plan worked out nicely as they were able to rip Ethiopian defense apart with their counter that they added three more goals, a second for Alaine Traore and one goals each for Yusuf Kone and Jonathan Pitroipa.
Ethiopia played against a Nigeria team that include Obi Mikel and others who play in big European clubs for the last group match of the competition. The team looked improved both in organized defending and attacking game than its second match. The two professional footballers from outside Ethiopia, Yusuf Salah and Fuad Ibrahim were also used for the first time in the competition. Ethiopians passed the ball around more commandingly and used the wings to go forward into the Nigerian penalty box while the super eagles dropped long balls to find their strong forwards. The teams looked fairly even in the first half with a few chances falling fo both sides. Saladin had a half chance in the 29th minute but he scoffed his shot and landed in the gloves of super eagle custodian Vincent Enyeama.
The walya antelopes started the second half more lively than the eagles ad they were pushing ahead for their second goal of the tournament. The eagles retreated back and used a similar quick counter attack play and their fast forwards Moses and Imanike. The eagles counter attack resulted a penalty kick for Nigeria when Moses was brought down in the box by Alula Girma. Moses stepped up and converted the spot kick to give the eagles the lead with 10 minutes to go. Walyas had a chance to equalize right afterwards when a cross from the left found Saladin Seid unmarked in the box but his header was pushed away by Enyeama. As the game was nearing its end, the lively Moses went through on goal and was caught by Ethiopian goal keeper Sisay Basa who saw his second yellow card and had to leave the game. Moses again converted the resulting penalty kick and sealed Nigeria’s place in the quarter final of the competition.
Ethiopia’s performance in the competition is to be scrutinized more to identify areas that should be improved. The team showed that they can play a beautiful football and awakened the fans and the football community in the country for more results. It is widely known that experience is also one important factor in these competition and the antelopes surely will use this to build their team more.