Football’s Ups, Downs

Looking into the football scenes of Ethiopia and the United Kingdom, one can see several similarities. It even looks like ups and downs are typical of football. There cannot be any better evidence of this than the abrupt termination of Yohannes Sahle's contract in Ethiopia and the championship of Leicester City in the English Premier League.

Last week was the moment that seized the excitement of fans and spectators alike, both at home and overseas. The first Femail coach and manager of Dire Dawa Football Team, Meseret Menu, proved her prominent status on the field, by beating two of the high flying teams. She made them bow down to her by proving that their status was nothing but mediocre.

It was also a week that the capital’s derby teams, St. George and Bunna enjoyed the controlled tension and well-advised tranquillity in front of many spectators who were calm and disciplined with the right atmosphere of sportsmanship. As always, a few exceptions were observed, as some fans shouted adverse name-calling provocations that were quickly aborted before they were able to spark a fire. Courtesy of the club organisers!

The other issue that had even landed at the BBC’s Sports News was the abrupt termination of the contract of Yohannes Sahle, national football team coach. It happened even before he could finish the responsibility of seeing the team round up the current tournament whether or not, it could make it. Although the decision may give him a sigh of relief, for now, many believe that was something to regret in his life.

The issue of his replacement has not yet been finalised, although there is speculation and rumours that one of the veteran coaches would be replacing him. But many football fans are of the opinion that the team is not in a shape that could qualify it for regional, continental or global matches.

Thanks to the introduction of DSTV in the country, football has gained popularity in Ethiopia over the years. The English Premier League, in particular, has grown to the extent of consuming more time and money than any other entertainment programme transmitted through the media, be it print or electronic.

This year’s Premier League has culminated in at least two plays ahead of time. Leicester City, a team that had been on the verge of relegation last year, has now gloriously picked up the cup in an unprecedented win. Two of the goals were shot by none other than Jamie Vardy who had even missed one penalty where the ball went too high above the bar. Vardy could have made the day of hat trick success that could have sent his name into the history books.

The team’s manager, Claudio Ranieri, does not limit his aspirations. He plans to keep team spirit intact and qualify for the European Union Championship. This is a chance that every jubilant winner aspires to achieve sooner or later. But the suspense did continue and overflowed to the next day – Sunday.

Sunderland and Tottenham had an account to settle between them. In fact, the high-tension match was very pressing for supporters of the Gunners (Arsenal) rather than the playing team. That was because Tottenham was second only to the winners and Arsenal’s chance to qualify for the next season was at risk. But it so happened that it Sunderland won the game. Arsenal seems to be on the safe side even one game ahead of the final week.

Football has been much in the news of the world everywhere including Ethiopia. Many people who were fans of the Gunners are now resentful of Arsène Wenger’s passivity to acquire a striker.

Football is very much linked with money. Betting on football results has become like venturing to buy lottery tickets. With the results achieved by the so far, high profile teams are still on hold, except for Leicester City. The teams whose points rank them up to the first eight, with the exception of Leicester, are still in a fragile and we could say precarious situation that involves a lot of assumptions about qualifying for the Championship competition, next season. There are quite a number of possibilities and “ifs” to take place either expected or unexpectedly.

Rules and regulations in the British Premier vis-à-viz European Union League and Europa League put all the remaining matches to the test. At this time, we could say with a better chance of certainty that Arsenal can qualify even with its present rank, hoping that Arsenal may play against the already surely relegated Aston Villa.

A crucial match was played by Manchester United which lost 3-2 by West Ham Utd. Southampton had won the team second in the table, Tottenham, in an unexpected last minutes result.

We can perhaps say that all these assumptions and speculations will come to an end and give us a sigh of relief only after the 90 minutes whistle will be heard this evening. Cheers!

By Girma Feyissa

Published on May 17,2016 [ Vol 17 ,No 837]



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