One of the first African countries to participate in the FIFA World Cup™ qualifying competition, Ethiopia first attempted to reach the finals in 1962, and they have been fairly regular competitors in qualifying since without ever making a major mark. Going back to Korea Republic/Japan 2002, the Walya Antelopes showed potential in beating Burkina Faso 2-1 in the first leg of a qualifying tie before slumping to a 3-0 defeat in the return. Four years later, the tide was reversed as they lost 3-1 at home to Malawi before registering a scoreless draw away to the Flames. In the preliminaries for South Africa 2010, they came back from two defeats with victories home and away over Mauritania, including a 6-1 thrashing in Addis Ababa. However, those results were cancelled following the Ethiopia Federation’s exclusion from the competition.
The current crop
Ethiopia’s present form cannot match their heyday, when they won the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 1962, but there are signs of progress for the east Africans. They will surely be hardened for the FIFA World Cup campaign by some rugged qualifying matches for the 2012 Cup of Nations.
The key players
Striker Said Saladin, who plays in the Egyptian domestic league, is the emblematic player of the Ethiopian team. Ethiopia can claim few overseas-based players, but their domestic competition is on the rise, and forward Umed Ukuri should give Saladin able support.
Coach: Sewnet Bishaw
Best performance in a FIFA competition: None
Former stars: Ydnekatchew Tessema, Luciano Vassalo, Mengistu Worku