Ethiopia lost 2-3 away in Malawi in their second Group 'B' Cup of Nations qualifier, the first being another unforgivable 1-2 home loss to visiting Algeria
ETHIOPIA play Mali on Saturday but the Walya Antelopes’ hopes of 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualification have taken such a hard hit after two opening losses in the campaign that not very good news is anticipated in Addis Ababa.
Perhaps the only light at the end of the tunnel is that a new 60,000 seat Stadium in the Ethiopian capital will soon be a reality after the commissioning of architectural plans and order of construction to begin.
Then, maybe, the country will be able to bid for future hosting of AFCON finals despite having done it three past occasions — 1962, ’68 and ’76 — albeit when the tournament had far less entries in the finals.
In the immediate past match of the current qualifiers, Ethiopia lost 3-2 to Malawi in their second Group “B”. The first was yet another close loss but what was unforgivable was losing it at home, 1-2, to visiting Algeria.
The wind may have been knocked out the sails of the Ethiopians by the two losses and only a daredevil comeback may see the Walya reaching next January’s finals In Morocco.
In the last outing, Malawi striker Atusaye Nyondo opened the scoring on 18 minutes but midfielder Getaneh Kebede brought the Ethiopians level on the stroke of half time.
Frank Banda restored Malawi’s advantage with a 62-minute strike and Frank Banda added the third four minutes later.
Ethiopia striker Yussuf Saleh reduced the arrears in stoppage time but it was too little, too late as Malawi had the upper hand in a closely-fought contest.
When the Ethiopians opened their qualifying campaign it was by no means a bad performance but unfortunately it was against an Algerians still playing with the panache of a team that had acquitted themselves well in the Fifa World Cup in Brazil in June.
Despite starting the game at a lively pace, home team Ethiopia did not do enough to warrant a win and went down 1-2.
Algeria’s goals came from El Arabi Soudani and Yacine Brahimi while Said’s penalty secured a consolation goal for the Walya Antelopes.
It was all going Ethiopia’s way in the early stages of the game and Salah Eddine Said went close to give the locals the lead in the 23rd and 27th minutes.
But Algeria soaked up the pressure and bounced back well despite the difficult conditions and very poor pitch. Against the run of play, Algeria opened the scoring through Soudani whose cross was deflected by an Ethiopian defender into his own net after 35 minutes.
After that, Algeria’s keeper Rais M’Bolhi made a few crucial saves to keep his team ahead before his team were able to extend their lead, finding the back of the net through Yacine Brahimi in the 84th minute following excellent work by Mahrez on the left.
Ethiopia did manage to pull a goal back in referee’s optional time when Said netted from the penalty spot.
The result in Addis Ababa set Algeria up nicely for their next match, at home to Mali, which they won 1-0 to take command of the group with six points. Mali and Malawi have three each points with Ethiopia pointless at the bottom.
Ethiopia were such a strong team during the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualification — where they missed Brazil only at the last hurdle when they lost out to Nigeria — that there was plenty of hope for the 2015 AFCON campaign.
The Walya, then, were under a local man Sewnet Bishaw, who lost his job after the World Cup campaign and Mariano Barreto, Portuguese who was assistant coach at Dynamo Moscow was hired.
Before for the current campaign Barreto had admitted that Malawi and Algeria were the “strong contenders” of Group ‘B’ of the AFCON qualifiers. Despite this, he stressed that he would fight for a position in Morocco.
Ethiopia were one of four original founders of CAF [African Football Confederation] — Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt and South Africa — in 1957 and took part in the inaugural three-team African Cup of Nations in Khartoum in that year.
The Ethiopians hosted AFCON for the first time at the Haile Selassie Stadium in Addis Ababa in 1962 and won the championship outright, their only title yet.
They have taken part in the AFCPON finals a total 10 times but their last being 2013 which came 31 years after the previous in 1982.
In two years
Meanwhile, Ethiopian followers of sport including football are upbeat about the new stadium coming up. Earlier, they were wowed when they saw the new stadium plan with most saying it was “beautiful”.
Construction of the Stadium will begin in March 2015 and will be completed in two years at a budget of 2 billion birr [$100 million or Sh8 billion].
The new stadium will be known as Adey Abeba (a yellow flower growing in Ethiopia in the month of September).
Football and athletics-loving Ethiopians will have the new FIFA and Olympic-standard 60,000 seat stadium, thanks to a competition winning design combining local identity with new technology.
The master plan includes the IOC-standard stadium for FIFA matches, athletics events, concerts, religious and national festivals; and a sports village comprising indoor and outdoor aquatic centres, outdoor pitches, sports halls and arenas, dormitories and the headquarters for the Federal Sport Commission. Hospitality, retail and commercial zones will ensure that the precinct is vibrant throughout the year.
The façade material that wraps the Adey Abeba is inspired by the Massob, an Ethiopian communal serving basket made from woven grass, whilst the shapes of the facade system appear as coffee beans, the main source of income in Ethiopia.
The roof of the stadium, an intelligent membrane, appears like a cloud on the horizon of the vast Ethiopian sky, a lightweight tensile structure floating over the formed-earth landscape.
2015 African Cup of Nations qualifiers
Results & Fixtures:
- 06/09/14: Ethiopia 1-2 Algeria
- 07/09/14: Mali 2-0 Malawi
- 10/09/14: Algeria 1-0 Mali
- 10/09/14: Malawi 3-2 Ethiopia
- 10-11/10/14: Ethiopia v Mali
- 10-11/10/14: Malawi v Algeria
- 15/10/14: Mali v Ethiopia
- 15/10/14: Algeria v Malawi
- 14-15/11/14: Malawi v Mali
- 14-15/11/14: Algeria v Ethiopia
- 19/11/14: Mali v Algeria
- 19/11/14: Ethiopia v Malawi
Ethiopia in AFCON finals:
Winners – 1962 (hosts)
Runners-up – 1957
Third place – 1959
4th place – 1963, ’68 (hosts)
Group stage: 65, 70, 76 (hosts), 82, 2013
Ethiopia, winners and hosts AFCON 1962:
Ethiopia 4 – 2 Tunisia
(Eth – Vassalo 32’ pen, Tekle 36’, Worku 69’; Tun – Merrichkou 13’, Cherif 29’)
Haile Selassie Stadium, attendance 30,000
United Arab Republic (Egypt) 2-1 Uganda
(UAR – Badawi 50’, Selim 57’; Ug – Jonathan 16’)
Haile Selassie Stadium
Third place play-off:
Tunisia 3-0 Uganda
(Tun – Jedidi 3’, Laaouni 53’, Meddab 85’)
Haile Selassie Stadium
Ethiopia 4-2 (a.e.t) UAR (Egypt)
(Eth – Tekle 74’, Worku 84’, 118’, Vassalo 101’; UAR – Badawi 35’, 75’)
Haile Selassie Stadium, attendance 30,000