The second round Ethiopian Premier League (EPL) is to start this weekend with matches at Addis Ababa and regional stadiums. The Horsemen will entertain Arba Minch, Ethiopia Coffee is to play against Dedebit while Fasil City is to host Sidama Coffee at Gonder Stadium.
Week 16’s highly anticipated fixtures will be those where the two Addis Ababa-based clubs are to be playing. One of the most popular and supported clubs, Ethiopia Coffee, will host Dedebit, a.k.a. the Blues. On the opening of round one EPL matches, Dedebit trashed Coffee 3-0 with a hat-trick from Getaneh Kebede. Again in the second round opening match, both will see each other with new managers as Asrat Haile has been appointed for the Blues while Ethiopia Coffee will be guided by former assistant coach Gezahegn Ketema.
It is to be recalled that the Blues announced the signing of three foreign players a week ago. Ethiopia Coffee was rumored to have recruited a central defense player from Ghana.
“It will not be an easy match against Ethiopia Coffee as it was in the first round. Ethiopia Coffee has a huge fan base and now they are on the right track than they were previously,” Dedebit coach Asrat Haile told the Reporter.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia Coffee coach Gezahegn told the Reporter, “We are ready to begin the second round with a win against Dedebit.” Ethiopia Coffee coach also responded to rumors about Nigerian forward Samuel Sanumi’s transfer to Hawasa City. “He will stay with Ethiopia Coffee,” he said.
Elsewhere, new comers and title rivals Fasil City will entertain Sidama Coffee. The Emperors were in top performance, and defeated top teams Saint George and Ethiopia Coffee in the first round. Fasil City coach Zemariyam Woldiegoriges spoke about dearth of players during the transfer window. The new comers only signed one player from Dedebit on loan. Dedebit’s young forward Abel Yalew was signed on loan transfer pending the end of a season.
“We have been trying to sign new players during the transfer window. But, clubs were not willing to part way with their players. So, we are going to carry on with our senior players,” Fasil City Coach Zemariyam Woldegiorges told The Reporter.
Over the last 20 days, several clubs were vigorously trying to make use of the February transfer window to come up with a strong squad in the league. However, there was limited activity during the transfer widow because clubs were not keen to let go of their players.
However, unlike relegation-zone clubs, full squad clubs are not worried about signing new players. Of this weekend’s other highly anticipated matches, the Horsemen will travel to Arba Minch to play against Arba Minch City FC. St. George was on 2017 Confederation of African Football (CAF) championship league matches during break time. The champions won the first leg 5-2 aggregate having won the first leg 2-0 on February 11, 2017 in Victoria, Seychelles and 3-0 at the newly-built Hawassa Stadium but the match was brought to a halt due to heavy rain. CAF then issued a directive through the match commissioner that the game would be completed the following morning (Monday) from the minute of last stoppage.
Week 16 EPL fixture against south side club Arba Minch will not be easy for the traveling Horsemen. The southerners finished the first round with 22 points – five wins, seven draws , and three losses, and are placed 7th on the table. St. George was at the top with 29 points.
The 13-time EPL title winners will take on Congo Brazzaville’s Leopard Football Club in the first round of CAF champion’s league.
The first round matches saw stiff competition. Fasil City succeeded in showing its superb performance for the new comers. Elsewhere, four clubs sacked their managers in the first round. Dedebit sacked the former Ethiopian National Team coach Yohannes Sahle after three league matches. Ethiopia Coffee sacked Serbian coach Nebojsa Vucicevic and later Jimma Aba Bunna sacked Dereje Belay and Commercial Bank of Ethiopia fired Tsegaye Kidanemariam.
St.George leads the table with 29 points. Dedebit is second with 27 points. Fasil City follows with 26 and Adama with the same points, but 4th only on goal difference.
Week 16 EPL fixtures:
Commercial Bank of Ethiopia vs. Woldia City
Electric vs. Jimma Aba Bunna
Arba Minch vs. St. George
Ethiopia Coffee vs. Dedebit
Fasil City vs. Sidama Coffee
Addis Ababa City vs. Hawassa City
Dire Dawa City vs. Adama City
Defense vs. Wolaita Dicha