Gambella: Home boy star, Omod Okori and the Ethiopian National Team

Addis Ababa, January 17, 2013 (GSN) - The Ethiopian National Team (Walya Antelopes) seen off warmly yesterday evening.  At the ceremony held in the millennium hall Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn handed over the Ethiopian flag to the Walya Antelopes capitain Degu Debebe. The premier advised the team members to play with discipline and try their utmost effort to score the desired result.

During the ceremony, the Ethiopian tycoon sheik Mohamed Alamudin awarded 10 million Birr both the women team Lucies and Walyias.

The players were promised more than $100,000 each Wednesday if they win the African Cup of Nations on the country's return to the tournament after a 30-year absence.

Ethiopia Football Federation president Sahilu Gebremariam said the players would get $111,000 each to win the Cup a huge amount in the poverty-stricken country — and $55,000 each to make the final in South Africa.

Sahilu said coach Sewnet Bishaw and his assistant coach would be rewarded with "significantly higher prize money" if the team progressed to the final.

Ethiopia won the Cup of Nations in 1962 but last qualified for the final tournament in 1982. It was drawn alongside tough opposition in Nigeria, Zambia and Burkina Faso for this tournament and is not expected to get out of the group.

"It's football, there is room for anything, any surprise," Sewnet said. "Although it's a new environment for the team, they have recently done wonderful in tough games."

Sahilu said the offers were "intended to boost the morale of the team."

"I am sure others, such as investors and prominent people, will offer them more prizes and awards if they make us proud in South Africa," Sahilu said.

Squad members were already given $11,000 each last weekend by Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi for qualifying for the African Cup.

"The players know more is coming if they play their best during the competition," Sewnet said.

 Meanwhile,home boy star, the Black Panther from Gambella “The 13th Month of Sunshine State” Omod Okori is among the best Ethiopian football players today. Who needs David Beckham, Roberto Carlos and Mario Balotelli, while we got our own super stars, Saladin Said, Omod Okori and Adane Girma who can entertain us up to international level.

Saladin Said who plays for Egyptian side Wadi Degla, admitted that the East Africans face a daunting test in the 19 January-10 February tournament in South Africa, but he insisted Ethiopia will fight hard to earn a quarter-final berth. “Our group is very difficult. Nigeria is a big team, and so is Zambia, who won the Nations Cup the last time,” Said, who has scored nine goals in 12 international appearances, told “However, our team is also strong. We have lost only one game in the last year, so I believe we can have a good tournament, God willing. We will play with the aim of reaching the next round.” 

While Omod is currently playing in the Ethiopian premier league for Defense Force FC, although scouts from clubs in Russia, Turkey and South Africa have shown a desire to sign him. A powerful striker or winger, with a rocket left boot, blazing speed and an eye for goals, at 21 he has the talent to reach Europe. In his international debut in December 2009, he scored a brace as Ethiopia defeated Djibouti 5-0. He has since been capped in 18 international games and scored 9 goals for an impressive ratio of 1 goal every 2 games. Other than his skills on the field, he is known as a humble, kind and easy going guy, who would rather enjoy a coffee with friends or go for a walk in his free time, unlike most footballers who drink and party.

"Playing for the national team is a huge affair, representing over 80 million people on the football field is no easy task. And I am very happy to be chosen for it."

Omod Okori, Defense FC & Ethiopia.

This video is a compilation of Omod Okori's international goals with the Ethiopian National Football Team:

1. goal vs. Djibouti
2. Goal vs. Uganda
3. Goal vs. Madagascar
4. Goal vs. Zambia
5. Goal vs. Guinea
6. Other goal vs. Uganda
7. Goal vs. Somalia
8. Goal vs. Malawi

As an Ethiopian I am proud of my countryman and brother Omod Okori.

Bertalin Omod!
Jegnaw Omod Okori ye Etyopia lij, koranibeh!

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