The victory of the Ethiopian national football team against Libya in a qualifier game for the 1969 world cup had stirred pitches from fans that veterans from the former should not be fielded anymore. Almost sixty years later, Ethiopia lost in the African nation’s championship while fielding a mix of stars from seniors and youngsters.

Indignantly, after the intense match between the two countries in the cold days of Addis, I cogitated on how neglected local football has become. Foreign football grips the nation’s attention, especially the unending barrage of informed analysis from the media that could have been a manifestation of the country’s appreciation of domestic football.

What went wrong in last week's game was the absence of effort by forwards, where the game matters most. The frustration led to the team collapse of the defenders and midfielders, resulting from the previous two games. It visibly sapped the players' physicality at the end of what is presumed an easy game turned into hopelessness of advancing to the next round.

There was a checkered reaction from members of a social media page, “Ethiopian Footballers,” of which I am a member. It is common for almost all football fans to have fuming reactions, as the absence of comments is an utter portrayal of dismay from group members. As I was looking for venting ways to ease my anger, my mind travelled five decades back.

Thanks to having Addis Abeba Stadium close to my childhood neighbourhood, I have always been close to football.

Though games were few, they were typical for goal feasts and the national football icons of the time were famous for the goals they used to score with the national shirt. Also for playing possession-based football with a stint of highly individualistic showboating that haunts the team today. However, their records are nowhere near the all-time great scorer Getaneh Kebede, who is left at the eleventh hour of the current competition.

There is nothing random in the world of football. I enquired whether the team was prepped, explained to and heeded by the head coach, the ultimate organiser of victory. Readying the team required to focus on the importance of nutritional practices in optimizing his players’ physical well-being and performance over and above the meteorological conditions of Algeria, and thus the economy of energy from his players.

The aftermath was undoubtedly far from only the score line, yet a game analysis of our tournament balance sheet was due. The fans need to assess the level of passion, and physical literacy, as it competes with others. We throw the blame for what we presented to the competition on the twenty-eight youngsters, the head coach, or his team.

It was then I started pipe-dreaming with ideas that made us more competitive and help our attachment to football grow. Football is an open book to learn from and share what is best in life. Germany’s national team’s triumph at the 2014 World Cup is attributed to Ralf Rangnick, a 1998 coach of a second-tier team. Instead of German football's three-man defences and man marking, he brought forward zonal marking, pressing and flat-back fours.

He was ridiculed at the time, yet Germany’s group-stage exit at Euro 2000, proved him right and freed the game not only from tactical stagnation, yet set the stage for a new generation of more tactically enlightened coaches like Klopp, with his trademark Gegenpressing team that reacts to a loss of possession by aggressively pressing their opponents to disorientate them and prevent them mounting a counter-attack. What looks awkward is the tactic involves deliberately conceding possession to be able to press an opponent in a particular area of the pitch.

Football can be linked to business as an avenue for ideas. Choosing the right people or ideas, developing and holding – a hallmark of competitive business, unleashing potential traits and weeding out the negative ones. Leaders can not make it independently, while employees must embrace teamwork. Just as in a match, a player may not pass the ball to a hogger lest they risk failure. Instead, the one who works cooperatively to help reach the win will most definitely get the pass.

I hope our National team will show us its bouncebackability with its following challenges by fielding players who read the game well and move with pressing logical patterns. I believe the goal thirst from our players is more the absence of psychological muscle than the physical.

PUBLISHED ON Jan 28,2023 [ VOL 23 , NO 1187]

Tadesse Tsegaye (, a polyglot with experience in multicultural-cum-institutional settings in resources management.

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