24th March, 2011
Nigerian-born Ethiopiaâ€™s Chief Coach, Ifenemeonye Onuora ordinarily would neither do anything against Nigeria nor involve himself in what could tarnish the image of his country of birth.
But, come Sunday at the National Stadium in Abuja, the above hypothesis would be thrown overboard as Onuora would lead the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia against his fatherland in a Cup of Nations qualifier.
â€œI empathize with my fellow Nigerians who are emotional about my leading a foreign team against the Super Eagles. Thatâ€™s really deep but this is football and I have to do my job. I see the Nations Cup game as a war between Ethiopia and Nigeria and Iâ€™m on the side of Ethiopia in this one,â€ Onuora said shortly after he and the Antelopes arrived Abuja yesterday.
The Antelopes, according to the Nigerian-born Onuora, are in Abuja to fight the Nigerian team for the points at stake to improve their rating on the Nations Cup standing.
â€œWe are third on the table with three points just as the Eagles, who are second. But, we need these away points to repeat what we did when Ethiopia defeated Madagascar on their home soil.â€
Despite the array of stars in the Eagles, Onuora said he believes in the ability of his majorly home-based youngsters to turn the table against Nigeria.
â€œI respect the top stars in the Eagles like Mikel Obi, Martins, Osaze, Yobo and the rest. But, football is not played by big names alone. I also know that Coach Samson Siasia will deliver as Nigeriaâ€™s coach, but we are in Nigeria to play the game of our lives,â€ Onuora enthused.
The Ethiopian team have in their 25-man delegation, led by Afework Ayele Gebremeskel, 18 players, including South Africaâ€“based striker Fikru Tefera.
Apart from Tefera, Onuora said players like Aynalem Hailu Reda, Asrat Megersa Gobena, Alula Girma Mekonnen, Yared Zinabu Showaatir, Shemeles Bekele Godo, Bedaso Hora Feyisa and Ashenafi Girma Wolde have the quality to do the job against Nigeria.
The other players in the squad are: Yidnekachew Kidane Beyene, Samuel Wohabe Meaza, Minyahile Teshome Beyene, Zerihun Tadelle Derese, Abebaw Butako Bune, Samson Mulugeta Gebreegziabher, Omod Okwury Omod, Adane Girma Gebreyes, Mengistu Assefa Sendeku and Daniel Deribe Gebremichaela.
Meanwhile, 21 of the 22 players in the Eaglesâ€™ camp trained under floodlights in the main bowl of the Abuja Stadium yesterday. The training commenced at 7pm, the same time that Sundayâ€™s clash with the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia will start. Osaze Odemwingie was asked to stay away from training after doctors confirmed that he has a torn muscle, but he is expected to return before the cracker.
The Nigeria Football federation, NFF says tickets for the match will be on sale throughout the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja today at the NFF, Durumi, Kubwa, Old Parade Ground, Maitama, Ceddi Plaza, Nyanya and Garki.
Tickets for the Upper and Lower terraces, according to NFF will go for N300 each, while State Box Extension will go for N5,000. Corporate Suites will go for N200,000.
Nigeria have three points and second behind Guinea, who have the maximum six points on Group B table of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series.