- How do you think is the present in Ethiopian football?
The present condition of Ethiopia football is all good. With this amazing squad we accomplished a lot. From participating in the African Cup of Nations after 30 years absences and also we managed to qualify for the World Cup play offs which is a great thing and personally we’re in a good form though we’ve some problems that we should adjust. Especially Goalkeeper problem and lacking of a goal poacher are the main problem. Some players went abroad that leads them to become a professional. You can see Getaneh Kebede and Shemles Bekele.
- And the future?
The future looks bright for sure; the Ethiopian Football Federation should work on bringing young talents though. We are hoping for a great thing like qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and become the first East African nation to do that. I also know our football clubs would have a great journey in African club competition. I can tell you that the future for Ethiopian football will go to be fantastic.
- Incredible performance of Saint George F.C. in continental competitions in 2013, isn´t it?
Indeed, Saint George F.C. showed us amazing performance on CAF Confederation Cup even though they got eliminated in the group stages. 2013 has been a good year for our football. Saint George F.C. eliminated some good teams along the way like ENPPI of Egypt, Djoliba of Mali. It was unfortunate that they were beaten by Zamalek of Egypt in CAF Champions League. Over all Saints wrote history and it was an exciting journey.
- I suppose you think it is a pity that Saint George F.C. cannot take part in Champions League or Confederation Cup in 2014, after being runner-up in league and cup.
Yes it is infuriating. We’re beaten by Dedebit, defending champions of the 2012/13 Ethiopian Premier League, in the title race and we also lost the Ethiopian Knockout Cup to Defense Force on penalties.
- How did the people of the country feel the qualification for an Africa Cup of Nations, 30 years after your last participation on it?
The people felt so good. Nobody really expected them to be there but they deliver. The people were amazed by them and also felt very proud. Even people were around the Addis Ababa Stadium before the crucial 2nd leg game against Sudan for almost 24 hours before the kickoff. It was a good vibe. Almost everybody took the national team very seriously and I hope it’ll continue like that.
- What are the main reasons for Ethiopia only got one point in this tournament? Maybe, unexperienced players in this kind of tournaments?
The main reason is lack of experience plus concentration problem. Not to mention injuries occurred to key players like Adane Girma and Asrat Megersa during the Cup also hindered us from going through to the next stage. And also lack of discipline and not having a good Goalkeeper cost us much.
- The next big tournament Ethiopia will play is African Nations Championship in 2014. What do you hope about this tournament?
I hope African Nations Championship is going to be a very nice experience and also a good way to know where our league is coping up with the others. We’re together with Ghana, Libya and Congo Brazzaville and it’s to be tough though. Hopefully Coach Sewnet Bisahw will select a good squad and we can make it to the final if we work hard.
- Talking about Getaneh Kebede, do you think is your most promising player for the future?
Yes Getaneh Kebede is exciting talent to watch. He is a natural born goal scorer and his partnership with star player Saladin Said will make us strong. He’s having quiet a good time at Bidvest Wits so of course he can become the next best thing in Ethiopian football.
- Will Youssouf Hersi be able to play one day for Walias or it is impossible?
Why not? Any Ethiopian player can play for the national team.
- Do you believe all the promising players of Ethiopia must emigrate to have any chance of getting a better football career?
Almost every player in the whole world wants to be a professional and wants to play in a good league and Ethiopian players have the ability to do that. Actually I do believe our league should be strong and our players should have a good playing career not also in abroad but here in Ethiopia also.
- What do you consider the most important for your league: sign foreign players or train national players that afterwards can help your national team?
Train national players will be a nice and wise move. I’m not against the fact that having foreign players which eventually rise the quality of the league but we should give priority for national players first after all they are the one who will take the national team to the next level.
- About your national league, which aspects do you think should be improved?
Our league should be better organized and have a schedule accordingly with the FIFA calendar. We need sponsors and we should attract the people by different means to come and watch league matches instead of watching English Premier League.
- Is the Ethiopian league broadcasted by TV?
No, the Ethiopian Premier League is not televised. It’s overwhelming frankly.
- How many people attend to a league game? Are the stadiums full or otherwise are empty?
It depends. Teams like Ethiopia Coffee, Saint George F.C. have large section of fans and Stadiums will relatively fill but when it comes to some average teams some enthusiast’s only watch the game. Clubs like Arbaminch City and Woliyta Dicha have also a fan base. Particularly Arbaminch plays its home game in front of 50,000 fans which is a good thing.
- Have you got there some problems between fans of each team?
Yes sometimes. Mostly it’s between the two great Ethiopian sides Saint George F.C. and Ethiopian Coffee fans. I also witness some football hooliganism. Since Saint George F.C. and Ethiopia Coffee are bitter and arch rivals it’s a common thing to expect.
- It is difficult to find a lot of information of Ethiopian league online, or at least in English. Don´t you think that this situation improved, much more people would follow football in Ethiopia?
The situation improved much but there needs to be a work done. I hope it’ll continue to progress too.
- Your league matches are played only in two Regions of the Country, why the other regions don´t have teams in the league?
Only Addis Ababa, Oromia, South Nations Nationality Region (SNNP) and Amhara have representative. Tigry have two representative, Guna Trading and Trans Ethiopia, but over the years their performance declined and get vanished. Other regions like Somali, Afar, Gambela, Dire Dawa and Benshalgul Gumuz are way behind. They need to work to have at least one representative in the league. The main answer for your question is they lack strong teams. If you see Afar, Somali and Gambela I don’t know if they have a football club also.
- I´ve discovered some of league matches are played on weekdays, for instance at 13.00 or 16.00. Don´t this fact difficult people went to the stadium?
It’s difficult thing for sure. As I said earlier it’s because of the league isn’t better organized plus the Federation wants to end the season before the summer. It’s hard to play football in the summer. That is why you see that kind of Schedule.
- Thanks for your words.