The concept behind our “then and now” feature this month is a look at two stories from the same nation at different points in time. First up, Ethiopia’s 1962 Cup winning heros and their latest 2013 side who graced this year’s finals.
Ethiopia 1962 Cup of Nations
Ethiopia can boast of a rish football history. One of the founding members of CAF, the voice behind South Africa’s exile from African football during the apartheid era and winners of the third African Cup of Nations on home soil. The 1962 cup winning side is our first focus.
And as the story of their triumph is so well told by Zecharias Etyopia of Ethiosports we’ll pass on the reigns from here,
” January 21st 1962, was the greatest day in Ethiopian football history. Our national team won it’s only major trophy in history. The 3rd African Cup of Nations in 1962 was hosted in Ethiopia. After a 12 team qualification, the 1-week long 4 teams tournament kicked off at Addis Ababa Stadium on January 14th 1962.
The 4 teams would play 2 semi finals, a third place playoff and the final. Ethiopia faced Tunisia, while Egypt the defending champions were paired with Uganda. Ethiopia and Egypt won their matches and made it to the final.
Previous years Egypt had defeated Ethiopia 4-0 in the final to claim the 1957 title. This time however, playing at the high altitude Haile Selassie Stadium (Now just called Addis Ababa Stadium) the Ethiopians were a skilled bunch and hungry for silverware. 25,000 fans filled the stadium and it would be worth it. One of the most entertaining games to ever be played in African football history took place.Egypt took the lead in the 35th minute through Abdelfattah Badawi to silence the Ethiopian crowd. The Ethiopians coached by St George legend Yidnekatchew Tessema pushed on, and grabbed an equalizer in the 74th by Girma Tekle. But seconds later Badawi struck again for Egypt and made it 2-1, and they looked on route to a 3rd straight African title before anyone else had even one.Cue the greatest Ethiopian footballer in history, Mengistu Worku. speed heading ability and scintillating skill made him a top prospect of many foreign teams but he refused to leave St George. The number 8 forward saved his team in the 85th minute. Jumping up to a corner and beat the advancing Egyptian goalkeeper to head home the equalizer. As a result the keeper unknowingly missed the ball and punched Mengistu square in tge left eye. But as the great recalled decades later, “my father died defending my country, so I had no problems taking a black eye for Ethiopia!”
(His father, Fitawrari Worku fought the Italians in the 1935-1941 invasion and was killed while Mengistu was a child).
90 minutes are up. The score is 2-2. Extra time is added. The tension in Addis Ababa was unbearable. But the Ethiopians capitalized on an Egyptian defensive error in the 101st minute and Italo Vassalo scored to make it 3-2 and give Ethiopia the lead for the first time. And in the 117th minute, Mengistu Worku famously dribbled past 4 Egyptian players and scored Maradona style to make it 4-2 for the homeside”
Ethiopia 2013 Cup of Nations
Ethiopia’s 2013 side returned to the tournament after failing to qualify for over three decades, and like a set of new neighbours who failed to read their tenancy agreement they quickly made their presence felt. Noisy, partying late on into the night, causing Zambia a nuisance, all in the space of eight days before they were handed their eviction notice somewhat fittingly by Nigeria (the only nation rowdier than them)
The Walya Antelopes were undoubtedly the most entertaining side to follow doing their part in bringing the year’s finals to light. The multicoloured shirts and the swarms of supporters sporting it would illuminate the stadium in colour as well as atmosphere. At times that wasn’t necessarily a positive as they found out when they received a fine $10,000 for the behaviour of their fans, who’d taken exception to a sending of their goalkeeper and launched their vuvuuzelas onto the field in protest.
The dismissal which was in fact warranted when Jemal Tassew bizarrely flew out of his goal challenging with feet in the air but ball out of sight typified a naivety that was part of their game throughout the tournament. They had their second keeper sent off against Nigeria, gave away two penalties during the course of that game, missed one of their own and were battered by Burkina Faso.
On other ocassions however they would provide a match for anyone. The fluency of their passing in the opening half against Zambia and the resilience shown in coming from a goal down and hanging on with 10 men was admirable. Adane Girma, one of the side’s star performers scored the only goal in their campaign and his injury in the subsequent game hamperred their efforts.
Head coach Sewnet Bishaw has held on to his role as they turn their attention to qualification for next year’s World Cup, where they lead group A on seven points. Although only half way through the process they’d hope that the lessons learnt in South Africa will aid them through.
Reaching Rio for the 2013 side would arguably equate to that that was achived by 1962 one. Are there days of glory once again imminent we’ll definately be watching with interest.
Your thoughts: Are the 2013 Walya Antelopes returning to Glory? Should the 1962 side have claimed more titles with the tournament in the old format?
Let us know in the box below
Photo: Bezabeh Anbetew