The early exit of Ethiopian football clubs from this year’s CAF inter-clubs competitions continues to spark debate and soul searching in the sport loving African country. National champions Dedebit FC Ethiopian and Cup winners Defense FC were ceremoniously dumped out before the second round of Champions league and Confederation Cup respectively.
This has prompted the football fraternity to search for answers and ask if this is symptomatic of where the national game is headed. Olympic and World champions Long and middle distance runner Kenenisa Bekele follows up on Ethiopian football keenly and believes his sport may have a few helpful lessons for football. According to the well decorated Ethiopian athlete, professionalism across the various arms of football needs to be the foundation of the sport in Ethiopia, “lt is essential to lay down the basic frameworks to reinforce both the national team and the clubs. Encouraging work has been seen in the last two years with some pleasing results for the national team but there ought to be structures in place that ensure continuity and sustainability of notable achievement reached. Without such structures the sport will have these up and down periods. Football is very widely accessed sport which requires organized professionally run structures that spearhead the sport not temporary injection and bursts of resources that bring short term success. Experience from other sports in this country’s should also be considered. For my sport Athletics has over time established a standard that sees athletes come to our country to learn from our success. I am sure Ethiopian football can also find how we run our affairs could be of benefit to them”
Defense FC captain, Tilahun Wolde says that as a nation Ethiopia still lags behind in accumulated experience needed at the top level of competition. And this according to him is one of the major reasons why Defense was knocked out of Orange CAF Confederation Cup competition early. “Playing more often against top international teams with both the national; team and the clubs will go some way to reduce the lack of experience and helps to be ready to perform better in the future continental matches.” Said Wolde.
Coach Paulos Getachew, who was in charge of Ethiopian Coffee FC during the 2012/2013 season for Confederation Cup says that among the reasons for lack of success for the Ethiopian clubs is the poor financial structures of the clubs. The investment into football as well as the organization and infrastructure lags behind that from other countries you compete against and this filters through from clubs to the national team. President of the Ethiopian Football Federation, Mr. Junedin Besha says that he is concerned about the failure of Ethiopian clubs to mount credible challenge in CAF competitions. He says “This is of grave concern for me personally and of course it reflects on the status of our game which directly impacts the national team. We are going to hold discussion with the clubs face to face with a view to assist clubs run effectively and improve on the basic requirements that ensure success. Clubs should examine their internal dynamics. Lack of strong clubs means lack of strong National team. We are going to undertake considerable amount of work ensure the success of National team continues in the year to come and our main objective is to qualify for the 2015 African Cup of Nations.”