Ethiopia / Ītyōṗṗyā / ኢትዮጵያ
- Capital: Addis Ababa / አዲስ አበባ / Finfinne
- Official Languages: Amharic, Afar, Oromo, Somali, Tigrinya
- Nicknames: Walia Ibex
- Association: Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) / የኢትዮጵያ እግር ኳስ ፌዴሬሽን
- FIFA Code: ETH
- Best World Cup Result (Men): Not Qualified
- Best World Cup Result (Women): Not Qualified
- Best Africa Cup of Nations (Men): WINNERS (1962)
- Best Africa Cup of Nations (Women): Fourth Place (2004)
- Best CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup (Men): WINNERS (1987, 2004, 2006 and 2015)
- Best All Africa Games (Women): Group Stage (2003 & 2007)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Men): 86th (September 2006)
- Highest FIFA Ranking (Women): 77th (77th July 2003)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Men): 155th (December 2001)
- Lowest FIFA Ranking (Women): 118th (July 2019)
- Most Capped Player: Shimelis Bekele – 57 caps (as of February 2021)
- Top Scorer: Getaneh Kebede – 28 goals (as of February 2021)
Ethiopia or officially The Federal Democratic Country of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country situated in the horn of Africa. The country shares borders with Eritrea to the north, Djibouti and Somaliland to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south, South Sudan to the west and Sudan to the northwest.
With regards to international football, Ethiopia has a long tradition and is considered to be one of the pioneers of the game on the African continent. The men’s national team played their first ever game on 5th December 1947 which resulted in a 5-0 away win against French Somaliland. The EFF then became full members of FIFA in 1952 and was one of the founding members of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in 1957. Later in 1957 the national team played in the inaugural African Nations Cup, finishing in second place. In 1962 the team went one step further and as the host nation they actually won the African Nations Cup that year with a 4-2 victory in the final against Egypt. That success in 1962 remains their solitary win to date in the African Nations Cup.
Like any other international football team, Ethiopia have had their share of highs and lows over the years. But things could be starting to get interesting for the Walia’s if one of their most recent results are anything to go by – a 2-1 home win against Ivory Coast in late 2019!
To find out more about the Ethiopian national team we spoke to Ethiopian born footballer Firaol Likassa who is currently based in Australia. As you will read, Firaol provides some excellent answers on all things concerning the Ethiopian national team. Firaol has his own twitter and instagram accounts – links can be found below.
Q. Who would you say is your country’s best player and coach/manager of all-time, and the reasonings behind the choices?
Mengistu Worku is widely regarded as the greatest player and coach in Ethiopian football history. The reasons behind this are due to the star role he played in the 1962 African Nations Cup triumph as a player. As a coach he will always be remembered for leading the team to compete in the 1982 African Nations Cup in Libya.
Q. Who could be regarded as a ‘cult hero’ in terms of the national team both in the past and present?
Again it would have to be Mengistu Worku from the past and Salahdin Said (currently at St George FC in Ethiopia) at the moment.
Q. Of the current team, who would you say is the best player in the Ethiopian national side currently?
There are lots of good young players coming through the ranks at the moment but I think the best player at national team level right now is Shemeles Bekele (Misr El Maksar FC)
Q. How would you describe the current state/performance of the national team?
I think there is lots of potential to do well as a national team. I do think the national team has made some good progress in the last couple of years, and they just have to sustain that.
Q. Are there any Ethiopian players who you think we should be focusing on for the future – who would you say is the most exciting up & coming talent from the country?
Yes there are lots of talented young players coming up through the ranks at the moment, but most notably would have to be Abubaker Nassir of Ethiopia Coffee FC. There are also some young players playing abroad in places like Australia and multiple countries in Europe who are currently doing well.
Q. Looking at Ethiopia’s international history, what would you say has been the best game, result or performance for the national team in your opinion?
I think qualifying for the 2013 African Cup of Nations after beating Sudan over two legs would have to be the best moment in recent history for the national team.
Q. Likewise, is there a performance or result which is regarded as the team’s lowest point?
Unfortunately there have been a few too many of these, but losing 7-1 to Algeria in 2016 was not good. Although the team did manage to get a respectable 3-3 draw in the return leg.
Q. What are the best and worst things about being a fan of the Ethiopian national team?
The best thing is seeing how much love Ethiopians have towards the game and the coming together of the country to support the national team. The worst would have to be failures to qualify for tournaments time after time over the years.
Q. Have the fans adopted some kind of unofficial anthem to sing along to before/during/after matches?
There are so many songs/chants that the fans sing during matches whilst watching the national team, too many to pick one out I think.
Q. Do you have a favourite or iconic shirt from the whole time of the national team?
I think the shirt that they wore in the 2013 African Cup of Nations was iconic.
Q. Finally, what are your hopes for the future of the Ethiopian national team?
I hope the national team fulfils the potential it has by cultivating the talented players in Ethiopia and around the world in different leagues. I hope for good leadership at all levels to help the team have a sustainable and fruitful future.
A massive āmeseginalehu to Firaol for answering our questions on the Walia Ibex. Remember you can find his excellent accounts in the links at the top of the blog page.
If you have any comments, suggestions, reactions, or even your own answers to the above questions, please write them in the comments box below. Likewise, you can either email us at email@example.com or send a message to @Gareth19801) or @The94thMin on Twitter.