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Ethiopia, the pride of East Africa

The last matches of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers were played over the weekend and one team that stood out from the rest was definitely Ethiopia, also known as the Walia Antelopes.

I have followed their progress for a long time and I was proud to be in Brazzavile, Congo, where they qualified for the playoffs despite being docked three points for fielding an ineligible player against Botswana.

The camaraderie in the Ethiopian camp was exceptional and captivating , a team with no known superstars but playing like a well-oiled machine they defied all odds and came out top of group A with 13 points.

When the qualifiers started, no pundit gave Ethiopia a chance and they were considered the ''David' among the top '"Goliath" teams. Today they remain the talk of Africa and the pride of East Africa.

No East African country has ever qualified for the World Cup. Africa is just given five slots but I can say Ethiopia have dared to dream, causing another twist in the tale that now sees the Walia Antelopes among the top teams that have qualified for the tough playoffs.

The likes of Ivory Coast, Nigeria or even Egypt may be the teams to watch but Ethiopia is definitely the team to catch. Important for Ethiopian fans is that the team has finally found the men that can ignite their hopes and dreams of reaching the very top in any football showpiece, including the World Cup.

The eye-catching exploits of Ethiopia cannot be mentioned without including the name of coach Sewnet Bishaw, who has once again defied all odds and proved that local coaches can reach the very top when given the same backing and incentives as their foreign counterparts .The top tactician instilled discipline, self-belief and confidence in the team to lead them to where they are now.

Ethiopia have reached a great moment and my strong advice for the federation is that this is the time for even more seriousness by invoking the principle of hard work, top friendlies and incentives to the players from the government ahead of the two important games that will determine qualification to the World football showpiece the World Cup in Brazil.

It’s been a breathtaking moment and Ethiopia can take on any team at the moment, as they have proved they are not pushovers. I am proud of Ethiopia and feel privileged to have been part of this great progress as they are now the Pride of East Africa.

Twitter: @bedjosessien

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