It seems the chance of the Ethiopian National Football Team to reach the group stage in the World Cup qualifiers is highly likely, the national football fans suggested. Ethiopia will meet first Sao Tome e Principe in World Cup qualifier in mid-October. A win in the home and away match will give the national side to face Congo in the second round.
Fifty-three African countries were in the draw made in Russia's city of St. Petersburg a couple of weeks earlier. The only country out of the draw was Zimbabwe following their FIFA expulsion for failing to pay a former coach.
The format of the World Cup qualifiers also helps the national side to progress up to the decisive stage. Just look at the format: the winners in the first round advance to the second round, where they will play a two-legged play off, before the 20 second round winners go into five groups of four, with the winners of that group stage qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
This means if the national team succeed in winning over Sao Tome e Principe in the first round, then they will meet Congo. A win over Congo will put them in group stage. There will be five groups. Those who emerge first in the five groups will go to Russia representing Africa. Reaching in the group stage is relatively easy but emerging first from the group is a tough job.
Considering this CAF always wants the five African representatives to show extra vigour to defend what Africa already has. A better performance will lead to request additional spots. If all African representatives face early exit, the danger of reducing the spots will be on the table. Due to this CAF wants a strong show in the World Cup finals.
With this in mind weaker Eastern African teams like the Ethiopian and Kenyan teams are not welcome to qualify for the finals. Experienced teams like Cameroon, the Indomitable Lions, Ghana, the Black Star, Algeria- Africa's highest ranked nation - are by far the darlings of the African event organizers.
For the national side it may be extremely difficult to go through to the finals. The glimmer of hope is reaching the group stage. Ethiopia reached the final group ten stage during the Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifiers. For the national team that was, in fact, the best result so far registered in World Cup qualifiers. Repeating that feat is a step forward for the name and prestige of the national side.
The same is true in the fourth African Championship, widely known as CHAN Cup. The Ethiopian National Football Team advanced to the second round beating Kenya with an aggregate 2-0 result. The national side are through due to the first leg 2-0 win over the visiting side Kenya coupled with a goalless tie in the second leg in Nairobi.
CHAN is a continental competition organized for locally-based players. The logic for only home-based stars to compete in the CHAN is to give local talent international exposure because many African national teams are dominated by foreign-based players. It is said that the last three championships (CHAN finals) has hit its intended target.
The national side will meet Burundi who beat Djibouti with an aggregate 4-1 result in the second round. In the eyes of many football fans it is possible to knock out Burundi in the home and away matches.
If the national team succeed in winning over Burundi they will get a ticket for the Rwandan CHAN finals which will be the second in a row. The national team took part for the first time in the third CHAN in South Africa two years ago. Former head coach Sewnet Bishaw guided the national side into that final. The CHAN Cup qualification is within reach but for the World Cup qualifiers reaching the group stage is what is expected most.
The 4th CHAN will take place in Rwanda. A total of 42 countries are set to chase 15 places at the 2016 finals while Rwanda qualify automatically as hosts of the tournament that runs from 16 January to 7 February, 2016.