The Ethiopian U-17 National team have arrived back home in the early hours of the day after taking part in the CECAFA Zone AFCON U17 qualifiers tournament hosted in Tanzania.
The red foxes impressed in the regional tourney winning all 4 of their group games. They laboured past Rwanda in the semi-finals winning 4-2 on post-match penalties, before succumbing to a 3-1 defeat in the final at the hands of Uganda – failing to qualify for the AFCON at the very last hurdle.
After arriving in Addis Ababa, Ethiopian U17 Coach Temesgen Dana spoke With Soccer Ethiopia. Here is what the junior national team trainer had to say:
About the reception the team received and the Ethiopian Football Federation:
“The current EFF administration has done a lot to support this team. We are happy with the reception we got. In previous administrations youth football only got attention when the results were good, but this has changed at the moment. EFF President Isayas Jira was coming to the dressing to encourage us. That meant a lot to the team.”
About the CECAFA U17 competition:
” The competition was really good. Everyone witnessed what a talented group of players we have. Two of our players managed to win awards for their performances and that is a testament to how good they are. Regarding age of players I can’t say that all National Teams fielded eligible players.”
Strength and Weakness of the Team:
” The real strength of this team is the unity we have. We try and solve any issues by discussing among ourselves. Our main weakness was failure to defend set pieces. This is also a problem of our senior national team and clubs. We didn’t have the time to train on how to defend set pieces.”
Reaction to the defeat:
“The fact that we were so close to qualifying for the AFCON U17 tournament, but failed to do so was a big blow for the team. The players were devastated after the final, but we (coaching staff) tried to calm them.”
” I only have a few months left in my contract so I’m not sure if i will continue in my role or not. These kids need attention and help. We have very talented players. We often talk about how there is a shortage of strikers and keepers in Ethiopia, but our striker and goalkeeper were named the best players of the tournament in their position. This is goes to show that the problem is not lack of talented players, but lack of work from managers and clubs.”