It has been a couple of weeks since the Ethiopian national team returned from the Africa Cup of Nations that took place in Cameroon. The Walias, who had just left the tournament earlier than expected, were heavily criticized for their poor performance in the opening rounds of the group stage, which culminated in going out of the tournament from a fair group.
The head coach of the national team, structural problems of clubs in the Ethiopian Premier League (EPL), the inexperience of players and the backwardness of the league were all cited as contributing factors for the national team’s failures.
On February 13, 2022, the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF), the Ethiopian national team coaching staff and 16 premier league clubs gathered to discuss the national team’s performance in Cameroon.
In the presence of club team leaders, coaches and assistant coaches, national team coach Wubetu Abate and fitness expert, Zeru Bekele (MD) and other experts presented a report on the national team’s overall activities in Cameroon.
Statistics were provided to the clubs on the full scope of the players’ activities during each game. However, the Walias seemed better in possession but did not manage to convert it into clear chances.
The EFF president, Isaias Jirra said the discussions mainly focused on issues the clubs and national team can work together on.
“It is up to the coach to decide the line-up of the players, but the federation should be involved in the question of how to solve the problem for the national team,” Isayas said.
Isayas mentioned that national team players stay for around nine days with the coach during their preparations, pointing out that clubs have to play the lion’s share in building the capacity of players.
After talks in Dire Dawa, Premier League clubs agreed to work with the national team, but pointed out that clubs cannot be blamed for the team’s performances.
The clubs in the Premier League have repeatedly stated that they need to change their club structure and needed to re-organize in a world-class manner, but have not been able to break free from old practices.
The lack of proper structure and finances has led to the overreliance on government coffers. Due to this, many say that the unresolved problems, results and performances of the national team are “the reflection of the league.”
The EPL Share Company stated that participating clubs need to modernize their clubs’ structure accordingly. The Share Company’s president, Fikade Mamo, told The Reporter that, clubs need to include their own office, auditor, finance, and other basic organizational structures to operate under the company.
Following poor performances in the AFCON, rumors of the likelihood of coach Wubetu being sacked persisted but Isayas insisted that firing the coach would not change the national team.
“I do not think it is possible to make the national team successful by changing coaches. There is no provision for the federation to terminate the contract signed with the coach. Accordingly, we will continue to review and evaluate the coach’s contract,” said Isayas.