The CECAFA U-23 Challenge Cup kicked off today at the Bahirdar international stadium, as host Ethiopia and Eritrea play out a three-all draw in what was a thrilling contest. With the Eritrean attacker Ali Soulieman and Ethiopian forward Abubeker Nasser running the show on an opening day sharing Five goals between them.
This edition of the CECAFA Challenge Cup has been dedicated for the U-23 sides to showcase the future stars of their respective national side, the tournament is hosted at Bahirdar City which is about 500km northwest of the capital Addis.
With nine teams taking part three teams were drawn in each Group where the teams finishing top of each group earning automatic qualification along with the best runner up from the three groups joining them in the semi-finals.
Uganda, Tanzania, and DR Congo(Invited) were drawn in Group A, while the hosts Ethiopia alongside Eritrea and Burundi are in Group B with Kenya, South Sudan, and Djibouti completes the groups in Group C.
The opening game saw host Ethiopia and Eritrea play out a draw in a thrilling encounter at the Bahirdar Stadium in what was the very first competitive match between the two nations.
In the opening minutes, the Eritrean side was on the front foot missing several chances but the hosts grew into the game, opening the score in the 13th minute through Ethiopia Bunna’s William Solomon.
Eritrea restored parity in the 38th minute through Ali Soulieman but yet again Ethiopia went ahead after Abubeker Nasser’s successfully converted from the spot but Eriteria once again draws level a minute later through Ali Soulieman.
After a fascinating half, filled with plenty of goals and excitement, the second half was a bit cagey and both sides were a bit cautious in their play, Ethiopia yet again took the lead for the third time in the match through current Ethiopian football wunderkind Abubeker Nasser but Eriteria restored parity in the 71st minute with Ali Soulieman scoring Hat-trick.
After the final whistle was blown the Eritrean forward Ali Soulieman was voted man of the match.