7 August 2018

Ethiopia: National Team Head Coach Abraham Unveils His Assistants

After signing a two year contract last week with the Ethiopian Football Federation, EFF, the head coach Abraham Mebratu unveiled his three assistants, the federation disclosed.

One is the long time Saint George assistant coach Fasil Tekalign and the other is Mulugeta Mihret. The third one is the goalie coach Wubishet Desalegn.

The name of the assistants has been unveiled by the EFF but their pay was not disclosed. The national team head coach at the time said that he is confident to begin the African Cup of Nations qualifiers with win.

"I look forward to starting work and very shortly I will start selecting players ahead of the friendly matches that will be organized before the qualifiers take place in six weeks time.

I hope I will be able to get to know the squad and will begin our match action with the newly elected players sooner rather than later," Abraham said after disclosing his assistants.

Abraham is confident to provide some entertaining football for the Ethiopian fans, and to strongly compete to go through to the African Cup finals. "Considering the contribution of the country in the formation the Confederation of Africa Football, CAF, Ethiopia deserves to reach in the finals," the coach said.

The former mid fielder Mulugeta Miheret didn't hide the fact that he is absolutely overjoyed to have joined the national squad with this high responsibility. "For me it is not easy to become part of this national duty. I say I am very, very happy," he said. "The dream of a footballer is to play for the national team. I had that chance. Getting the continental trophy with the national side is what we aspire when we played with the national side. That is far from the reality but we didn't do it. This time I am excited to assist for the national side to reach African Nations Cup finals. This is what I aspire this time," Mulugeta added.

Mulugeta is highly regarded as an all time fair player for taking only one yellow card in his 12 years playing career in the country's elite league. He played for the national team, Saint George and Hawassa City as midfielder.

The long time St. George assistant coach Fasil Tekalign said that he is delighted to be part of this national team who served as assistant before.

"Abraham's Yemeni side played some of the most exciting football in Asia qualifiers, impressing the fans with their attacking approach and dynamism, and his coaching methods significantly improved the players at his disposal. I hope he will do the same in Ethiopia," Fasil said.

Fasil played for St. George as winger for long. After retiring he became first the youth team coach and then assumed the assistant coach status at St. George. Fasil has also served as an assistant national team coach.

Many people received the appointment of Abraham as head coach of the national team with hope and inspiration. Negotiations to release Abraham from his Yemen deal took some weeks to conclude.

This is the first time EFF to appoint the national team head coach following the resignation of the former coach Ashenafi Bekele in December 2017.

Ashenafi resigned after the national side faced repeated defeats in the African Nation's Cup and the CHAN Cup qualifiers. His sides performance in the CECAFA Cup was also far below expectations.

His resignation was little expected prior to his announcement. It is unusual to resign from such lucrative position in the country's football history. The common denominator, even after disastrous defeats, was blaming the players but Ashenafi took the responsibility for the defeats.

It is the ambition of the federation to organise an innovative, creative and exciting national football team that inspires the country's football fans. But this ambition has evaporated time and again in the past.

Every time it has been said that 'progress is fully on track' but the end result remained unchanged: the usual defeat.

Though EFF president Isayas jira vows to break that cycle of defeats, it is difficult to be sure of the future.

Coach Abraham looks very confident but the road ahead is not that easy.

One solid year remains for Doha World Athletics Championship

We have only a year to go to the Doha World Athletics Championship that is expected to take place in 2019. For Ethiopia Doha is crucial in one thing: it is helpful to select athletes who qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In addition to this Doha has one more importance for Ethiopian athletes. The capital of Qatar was controversially awarded the championships in 2019 despite fears over the harsh climate. It is also confirmed that Tokyo will also be very hot in July and August 2020. So it will be the time to test the harsh climate in Doha before the national squad travel to Tokyo.

The IAAF have taken the counter-measure of scrapping morning sessions for the event, which will run from September 26 until October 6, when average high temperatures are 37 degrees with a low of 25.

It may be difficult for the Ethiopian athletes to gain the minimum time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic under that scorching Doha sun.

Tradition has it that the Olympic season starts during the World Athletics championship that is scheduled to take place a year ahead of the start of the Olympics.

The country's athletics governing body, the Ethiopian Athletics Federation, EAF, has never been heard talking about the Doha World Athletics Championship.

The World Championship is an international big event that is instrumental in creating confidence for athletes. That has been proved right for the brilliant Ethiopian athletes in the past.

The Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebreselassie came to prominence at the World Athletics Championship before setting a new Olympic record in 1996 Atlanta centennial Olympics.

Kenenisa Bekele took Olympic gold medals in Athens Olympic just a year after he surprised the world in World Athletics Championship.

The same record was registered by Meseret Defar. She snatched the Athens Olympic 5, 000m gold a year after she won gold at the World Championship.

Nearly all Ethiopian Olympic gold medallists were world champions. This shows that the World Championship and the Olympics are interconnected for Ethiopian athletes.

It looks now EAF has not put these facts in to consideration.

The selection of Doha to host the World Championship was the jurisdiction of the international athletics governing body, IAAF.

Despite this it has always been reported that the 'capital of Qatar was controversially awarded the championships in 2019.'

Well, Qatar has been hosting international athletics events for over 21 years from the first-ever IAAF Grand Prix in 1997, which later became the Doha Diamond League in 2010 and this year was celebrated its ninth edition, in addition to the 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships.

The harsh climate also brought something new unseen in the previous World Championship. This is what is called the World Championship firsts. 'The first 4x400m mixed relay will have its global debut ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, the first midnight marathon, the evening sessions with semi-finals and finals.

'The midnight marathon that will take place in Doha's iconic Corniche is the result of the scorching sun if it takes as usual in the morning.'

Regarding this the former world bronze medallist Jo Pavey, who is weighing up contesting the marathon, by which point she will be 46, said: 'It is interesting. On the one hand you want them to prioritise health - look at Callum Hawkins' collapse in the Commonwealth Games. Running earlier in the day in the heat is a risk and it is good that it is being considered."

The fear over harsh climate will remain unchanged but the good thing is that it is an opportunity for Ethiopian athletes to take good lesson for the preparation of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The organizers say that numerous events will start later than midnight to tackle the high temperatures. The same thing may be done in Tokyo. So it is good to prepare for Doha before Tokyo.

Ethiopia has different climate in different parts of its region. Going to Metehara or Semera, the capital of Afar, will enable athletes to acclimatize with the scorching sun. Debrebirhan and Assela are close to the freezing points. For a competition during cold weather, these are important places. Doha requires training sessions at Semera.

In Brief

Gebre takes Mekele City leaving the champions

This is a unique transfer to Mekele City for the most successful coach Gebremedhin Haile who guided Jima Abajifar to take trophy.

It was also little expected that the coach of the champions would transfer to another club days after marking the victory. Mekele City managed to settle fourth under coach Yohanes Sahile.

It is unclear why Gebre decided to leave the champions after having the successful result. The transfer fee is not disclosed except that it is 'very lucrative'.

As a coach this was his first big success. What will happen in Mekele next season? It is not easy to predict the outcome of his move but he managed to take best players of Jima Abajifar to Mekele with him.

As a player he lifted the national team trophy for the first time in 1987 in the CECAFA Cup held in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopian athletes perform well in African Athletics Championship

The Ethiopian athletes performed well in the 21st Africa Athletics Championship that took place in Nigeria. Jemal Yimer and Andualem Berihu came out first and second in 10, 000m at the start of the championship.

At the closing date another two Ethiopians collected gold. Reports confirmed that the performance of the Ethiopian athletes in Nigeria is praise worthy.

Tsegaye extends contract for one year with Wolwalo Adigrat University

Tsegaye Kidanemariam has extended his contract for one year with Wolwalo Adigrat University side, club sources disclosed.

Tsegaye has begun coaching at Wolwalo in February 2018. By then Wolwalo were in relegation zone. The club said that Tsegaye saved Wolwalo from possible relegation from the elite league. The club's expectation is to strengthen the side by extending his contract. Three players signed for Wolwalo knowing that Tsegaye's stay was guaranteed for one year.

Tirunesh to participate in Berlin Marathon

The three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba will take part in the Berlin Marathon that is set to take place on 16 September, 2018.

The world marathon record was set by Paula Radcliff at a time of 2: 15.25 in 2003. In the last 15 years no body was able to intrud in this territory. Tirunesh who has the best time of 2: 17. 56 is expected to slash the 15-year old record in Berlin.

Tirunesh made her personal best time in London Marathon a couple of years ago.

The defending champion Gladys Cherono of Kenya and Edna Kiplagat are also expected to take part in Berlin Marathon. Cherono registered 2: 20. 23 when she won her second victory last year.

Compiled by Solomon Bekele

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