Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Ethiopian national football team coach Sewnet Bishaw believes his side can still qualify for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals by beating visiting Sudan in this weekend’s return leg of the final qualifier. Ethiopia hosts Sudan this Sunday, October 14, at the Addis Ababa stadium trailing 5-3 from last month’s encounter in Khartoum. Bishaw told Cafonline.com ahead of the encounter that it is possible to turn the tables on Sudan and qualify.
Cafonline.com: After losing 5-3 in Sudan in the first leg it is a tall order to recover from that isn’t it?
Bishaw: I cannot deny that it was a heavy defeat. But it is possible to reverse that result with a simple 2-0 win in front of our fans. If one remembers the scoring pattern in the first leg one can easily observe that we were able bounce back two times. Sudan had a 1-0 lead, and then we crawled back to 1-1. The Sudanese side extended the lead to 3-1, it we fought back with two goals to make it 3-3 after 82 minutes. In the remaining 8 minutes Sudan scored two goals from penalties to win 5-3. My senses tell me that it is possible to reverse the deficit and gain victory over the Sudanese side.
Cafonline.com: Your first goalkeeper will not play and the second choice Dereje Alemu has a leg injury. Defender Abebaw Butako is suspended. With all these absentees is it possible to achieve your goal?
Bishaw: Our first goalkeeper Sisay Bancha and defender Butako were given the second yellow in Khartoum. Dereje Alemu injured his leg in training on Monday (October 8). But we brought in two goalkeepers, Zerihun Tadele and Jemal Tasew who are equally competent. We have also called in defender Yared Zinabu to fill the gap, so we think we will still do well.
Cafonline.com: There is also Egypt based striker Saladin Seid who didn’t play in Khartoum.
Bishaw: In Sudan he was in the line but did not play but this time round he will play. He is in good form this time. He has fully recovered from a leg injury. His performances in our training sessions have been fast improving. The recovery space was more than the physicians suggested. His presence in the team will surely boosting the morale of the players.
Cafonline.com: What is the mood like in camp?
Bishaw: The team spirit is high. I have been in coaching business at the national level for years but I have never seen a team with this kind of determination and high spirit. We have been together for nearly two months. That could be our source of strength. Everybody is keen to get the needed win over Sudan and qualify for the 2013 African Cup of Nations for the first time in 31 years. I am hopeful that we will make it.
Cafonline.com: How will you handle a very defensive Sudan out to protect its 5-3 lead?
Bishaw: We are prepared for any situation that will arise. My boys are determined to make history like the past Ethiopian side that won over Guinea during the 13th African Nations Cup qualifiers. That side went against all odds to win against Guinea and make it the 1982 finals in Libya. With this unified strength and high spirit we have belief that it will be possible to break the defensive tactic with an attacking football using the full length of the pitch.