Addis Ababa — The Ethiopian National Football Team, commonly called the Wallias, booked their place in the finals of the 2013 African Nation's Cup with a 2-0 home win over Sudan Sunday at the Addis Ababa Stadium.
Goals from Adane Girma at the 63rd minutes and Salahdin Seid at the 66th minutes secured the first continental finals in 31 years for the Wallias. The visitors had a 5-3 win over Ethiopia in the first leg held in Sudan a month ago. Though the agregate result is 5-5, Ethiopia qualified for the finals with the away goal rules. This was the second time for Adane to score against Sudan. The first was in Sudan when the national side scored three goals. The ace striker Salahdin Seid was not in the line up in the first leg in Sudan.
At the end of the game National Team Coach Sewnet Bishaw said that the first leg defeat was indeed heavy. "But as I expected we reversed that result with a simple 2-0 win in front of our fans. My boys created a number of clear scoring chances both in the first and second halves. That attempt bore fruit in the second half. We got what we wanted," he said.
He added: "The team spirit is high. I have been in the coaching business at the national level for years but I have never seen a team with this kind of determination and high spirit. We have been together for nearly two months. That could be our source of strength. Everybody is keen to get the needed win over Sudan and qualify for the 2013 African Cup of Nations for the first time in 31 years. And we got it. My boys were determined to make history like the past Ethiopian side that won over Guinea during the 13th African Nations Cup qualifiers. That side went against all odds to win against Guinea and go in to the 1982 finals in Libya. My side crushed the Sudanese side with high spirit. I am very happy."
Team Captain Degu Debebe on his part stressed that this was a once in life time opportunity. "I say that this is a generation that made a new Ethiopian history. We were the founders of the African Football Federation along with Sudan and Egypt. I have been told time and again about this great Ethiopian history. But I have never seen our team to play in the African Nation's Cup final. I got this opportunity today. This is a great moment for me," he said with emotion.
The Sudanese head Coach Mazda Abdallah said that in any football match this kind of results happen. "It is very disappointing. I didn't expect that my side would concede defeat," he remarked.
The sad part was that at the 85th minute the Ethiopian goalkeeper Jemal Tasew was taken to hospital after he sustained an injury. When he fell down after a charge with Mohamed Abdelmonem the huge crowd thought that it was a deliberate act to waste time but when the Ambulance was in at the pitch all felt that the injury was grave. Hospital sources confirm that he is fast recovering from his neck injury. In his place Adis Hintsa, a midfielder, was forced to be the goalie of the national team for the remaining five minutes simply because the national side made three substitutes as per the regulation.
The Sudanese side played what it had in store to exploit the absence of the first goalie but their attempt didn't bear fruit.
When the two sides remained goalless at half time, many national football fans thought that Sudan had a better chance to go through. But when Adane scored the opener at the 63rd minute, the atmosphere was changed in favour of the Ethiopian side. It didn't take them more than three minutes to secure the winner through Salahdin Seid.
That is a great achievement in the last 31 years. The next step is to prepare for the World Cup qualifiers. The Ethiopian National Team are on top of Group A with 4 points. It is possible to secure a place in the 2014 World Cup.
Meanwhile, Nigeria were held by Liberia in the opening leg but they made light work of brushing aside the Lone Stars to qualify for next years final in South Africa with 8-3 aggregate results.
Efe Ambrose struck in the first minute to set the Super Eagles on their way and Ahmed Musa doubled his side's lead before the break after latching on to Emmanuel Emenike's pass.
Three of the goals came from players at English Premier Leaguse side Chelsea, with Victor Moses scoring twice and Jon Obi Mikel also on the scoresheet after he struck from the penalty spot.
Ike Uche was also on the score sheet for Stephen Keshi's team, while Patrick Wleh scored a consolation for the away side, who had captain Gebro Duncan sent off.
Reigning African champions Zambia scraped through to South Africa after a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
Uganda were left heartbroken after dominating the game but failing to complete the task when Patrick Ochan missed the decisive spot-kick in sudden death.
The match went straight to penalties after 90 minutes and the omens looked good for Uganda when Zambia captain Chris Katongo missed the first kick.
But Uganda missed their second effort and penalties went into sudden death. And it was the unfortunate Ochan who missed his kick, ending Uganda's hopes of reaching the finals for the first time since 1978.
Ghana became the first team to qualify for the finals, progressing comfortably with a 1-0 victory in Lilongwe giving them a 3-0 win on aggregate.
Afriyie Acquah fired home the winner for the Black Stars after just three minutes, from a corner.
Mali booked their place in the finals, with a convincing 4-1 away win over Botswana giving them a resounding 7-1 aggregate victory.
Goals from Cheikh Tidiane Diabate, Modibo Maiga, Mahamadou Samassa and Abdou Traore secured an eight continental finals appearance for the Eagles.