Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw has expressed optimism about his team’s chances of making it to their first World Cup as they face Nigeria in the play-offs.
The Walia Antelopes were pitched against African champions the Super Eagles in Monday’s draw conducted in Cairo, Egypt. The Antelopes are ranked 57 places below their opponents
"This is not the time to lament on the opposition we have since all the 10 teams that qualified were equally good and up to the task. Nigeria are a very good side and we cannot underrate them but the secret will be to work extremely hard and use the home ground advantage before going away which is always a difficult hunting ground," Bishaw told SuperSport.com.
"I am optimistic that if we can begin our preparations as soon as possible we will get positive results since we have drastically improved since we last played Nigeria at the Afcon.
“We have a huge ask ahead of us and as you know the entire country is expectant of good results and we cannot afford to let them down at this important time.
After sailing through a second round group that included South Africa, Botswana and the Central African Republic, Ethiopia have 180 minutes standing between them and their maiden World Cup appearance.
It is something that would delight the country that only returned to their first international competition this year after an absence of 31 years.
"No one dreamt of Ethiopia being at this stage but now we remain with two important matches that will help shape our destiny and determine if we will qualify for the World Cup which is every player and coach’s dream," Bishaw said.
The first leg is expected to be played in Addis Ababa between 11-15 October while the return leg will take place between November 11-15 in Nigeria.