The Horn Times sport October 11, 2013
by Getahune Bekele-South Africa
Sewnet Bishaw’s coaching pedigree and game management skills will be once again put to the test come this weekend when he leads his troops, the black lions against African champions, the super eagles of Nigeria. Millions of soccer-mad black lion fans are eagerly waiting to see if the highly regarded gaffer Sewnet Bishaw has indeed transformed himself from a smash- and- grab type boss of a lower ranking team to a modern day manager of a potential championship-winning outfit.
The pressure is now back on Sewnet after grinding out positive result against C.A.R away and his critics are waiting to capitalize on any blunder by pointing out what should or could have been since he is the only coach who does not have a settled eleven after managing the black lions of Ethiopia for such a long time.
“Who said not having a settled eleven is a disadvantage? No player is guaranteed a place in the starting eleven under Sewnet Bishaw. Every player is there on merit and has to earn a starting berth. The competition for places keeps the players on their toes. That has been Sewnet’s work ethic and it really yielded massive result. Look at the likes of the young Salahidin Bargecho, Sewnet gave him his first taste of international soccer away from home and the boy did not disappoint. Much to our surprise he came through unscathed.” A member of the black lion’s technical team told the Horn Times by phone from Addis Ababa asking the magazine not to divulge his name.
“Phone me on Sunday evening to see who will hang his head in shame between Steven and Sewnet. Having said that we understand the concern of the free media when you people say that we must stop striving for mediocrity. Of course, we have let down the nation at AFCON and wrongfully celebrated mediocrity. Nevertheless, we are ready to redeem ourselves. ” the confident sounding former player added.
On paper, it is delicately poised and very difficult to predict which team will win even when altitude and home ground advantage strongly favors the dribbling wizards of African football, the beautiful black lions of Ethiopia.
The maverick gladiator Aynalem Hailu is a nightmare for any opposing striker and as a result South African sport writers call him “the bully.” He is a unique defender who plays football with patriotic fervor just like yester year super black lion Asrat Adugna. Millions of soccer lovers across the vast continent will witness on 13 October 2013 an epic battle for world cup berth between Turkey based Nigerian super star Eminike and the resolute Aynalem Hailu, the young man who epitomizes Ethiopiawinet on and off the pitch.
He forms an ironclad defense with fellow hard man Biadeglgn Elias, set pieces specialist Abebaw Butako and the new discovery, 19-year-old black lion Salahdin Bargecho with crowd favorite, the burly Birhanu Bogale giving cover from the bench.
In the midfield, the talent at Coach Sewnet Bishaw’s disposal is the envy of several African managers. He can dispatch what Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho often calls physical miracle, the powerful Yared Zinabu alongside the effervescent street fighter type genius who has been praised for his efforts and dynamism, Addis Hinsa. The combination of the two will not only win the midfield battle for the black lions, but also eases the pressure on the defenders.
However, the Horn Times learnt the exclusion of Yared with shock and that means the lanky Asrat Megersa will have to protect the back four if the black lions employ the traditional 4-4-2 formation or if the coach prefers to pack the mid-field with five players to avoid conceding an away goal.
The top entertainers when it comes to one touch soccer, trickery and artistry, the black lions are no longer closed books to their opponents. Flying Liverpool winger Victor Moses knows that Abebaw Butako who marked him out of the game for 80 minutes during the AFCON tournament in South Africa will be a hard nut to crack. Chelsea superstar Obi Mikael is also well aware of the massive battle he has to overcome against the combative black lion, Addis Hinsa.
In that ill-fated game characterized by Alula Girma’s defensive blunder and Sisay Bancha’s goal keeping calamity, the black lions were forced to use eight fringe players due injuries and suspensions. This time they are at full strength and at home.
With veteran box- to- box utility player Adane Girma winning and protecting possession and controlling the tempo of the game, a convincing win which will make the next away game just a formality is achievable.
According to those who observed the intense preparation, the mighty black lions are set to steal the limelight and put one foot in Brazil.
The only worry that lingers is the inability of Sewnet to find a reliable shot stopper. The man with the most polished CV both as a coach and as player, Steven Keshi is certain to approach the game with caution, getting ten players behind the ball and bombard the black lion’s defense with long balls for Victor Moses to chase.
Whoever is chosen between the acrobatic Jemal Tassew and the hulking Sisay Bancha, he must double up as sweeper by confidently clearing balls landing behind Aynalem Hailu and Elias Biadgelgn. In addition, Sisay and Jamal need to apply the basics when facing a striker one on one. “Make yourself big, narrow the angle, and force the attacker wide.”
Although Eminike might not be playing, the Super Eagles have some speedy and physically superior players to cause serious damage on the Ethiopians.
The game will be a tactical battle between Keshi and Bishaw. While Keshi deeply worries about black lion goal machine Salhadin Said, Bishaw has to find a way of cutting the supply line to Victor Moses by completely shutting down Obi Mikeal.
The Horn Times predicts a 2-0 home win for the black lions and a 1-1 away draw. Brazil here we come…
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