The Ethiopia head Coach Ashenafi Bekele summoned a 27-man provisional squad on Wednesday to start preparations on Thursday ahead of the CHAN 2018 play-off double header against Rwanda.
Rwanda and Ethiopia meet on November 5th in the first leg in Addis Ababa and 12 for the return leg in Kigali in bid fill the place at the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) vacated by Egypt.
The Ethiopian Football Federation were hesitant in staging preparations since Sunday seeking the postponed of the scheduled play-off.
On Tuesday, they requested CAF to have the game postponed to pave way for the start of their league over the weekend but their request was denied in a communication sent to them on Wednesday.
The move forced the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF)’s Executive Committee to stage a crisis meeting which resulted in Coach Bekele given a go-ahead to summon the squad.
Coach Bekele will take the 27-man squad in double training sessions at Addis Ababa stadium on Thursday and Friday before selecting his final 18-man to face Rwanda on Sunday.
The majority of players summoned by the veteran Bekele were drawn from champions St George SC. They include; first choice goal keeper Lealem Birhanu (St. George), defenders Abebaw Butako, Salahdin Bargicho, Asechalew Tamene , midfielders Menetesnote Adane and Mulualem Mesfin (both from St. George).
Bekele’ striking force against Rwanda will be comprised of African Player of the Year – Based in Africa nominee Salahdin Said who scored seven goals in this year’s CAF Champions League, Abubakher Sani, Gadissa Mebrate and Ame Mohammed all drawn from St. George). Other strikers to keep a keen eye include Getaneh Kebede (Dedebit) and Aschalew Girma (Ethiopian Coffee).
Rwanda and Ethiopia are vying for a final place at next year’s CHAN finals following Egypt’s withdrawal after clubs refused to release players as the tournament for home-based footballers is not staged during a FIFA international window.
The Egyptians were eliminated in the qualifying competition by Morocco, who then replaced unready Kenya as hosts, creating a vacancy in the 16-team field.
Egypt were reinstated only to pull out, leaving Ethiopia and Rwanda to play each other on November 5 and 12 for a finals place.
Rwanda and Ethiopia and Rwanda were eliminated during the final qualifying round and the organisers said they were given a second chance as “part of a concern for fairness”.
Qualification is regional and the east will now have three representatives along with the centre and south while the west has five and the north two.
Morocco will host the Nations Championship draw in Rabat on November 17, and the tournament in Agadir, Casablanca, Marrakech and Tangier between January 12 and February 4.
Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Libya, Mauritania, Namibia, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda and Zambia are the other qualified nations.
Ethiopia Provisional Squad:
Goalkeepers: Jemal Tassew (Dire Dawa), Lealem Birhanu (St. George) and Tarike Getenet (Dedebit)
Defenders: Abebaw Butako, Salahdin Bargicho, Asechalew Tamene (all from St. George), Girma Bekele (Ethio-Electric), Henok Adugna (Jimma Aba Jifar), Eshetu Menna (Wolaitta Dicha), Desta Yohannis (Hawassa) and Tewdros Bekele (Defense).
Midfielders: Menetesnote Adane, Mulualem Mesfin (both from St. George), Samson Tilahun, Mesude Mohammed (both from Ethiopian Coffee), Firew Solomon (Hawassa), Surafel Dagnachew (Adama), Amanuel GebreMikael (Mekele), Teklu Tesfaye (Ethio-Electric)
Forwards: Salahdin Said, Abubakher Sani, Gadissa Mebrate, Ame Mohammed (all from St. George), Dawa Hotessa (Adama), Minyelu Wendimu (Defense), Getaneh Kebede (Dedebit) and Aschalew Girma (Ethiopian Coffee).