In the opening round of the 2023 AFCON qualifiers, the Ethiopian national team suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Malawi at Bingu national stadium.
Wubetu Abate mostly stuck to starters in AFCON 2021 with the two major alterations being in goal and in the frontline, With both Teklmariam Shanko and Getaneh Kebede left out of the squad deputy goalkeeper Fasil G/Micheal started between the sticks while Abubeker Nasser was given charge to lead the line for Ethiopia.
Once again the Ethiopian side didn’t start the game well, there were several instants in the first half where players made several fatal defensive errors individually as well as in a collective sense.
Both of Malawi’s goals in the first half were a pure testament to such clumsy decisions, both goals coming from penalty kicks were the consequence of a miscued pass and a desperate action from the center backs to rectify them.
Ghabadinho Mhango converted on both occasions in the 10th and 34th minute to send the home crowd into jubilation mode.
“The Walia’s” being two goals down were once again positive in their play, dominating the possession but they were once again poor once they entered the offensive third.
Ethiopia’s first attempt on targeť came in the 42nd minute as Dawa Hotesa’s inch perfect cross was met by Abubeker Nasser, but his effort was saved by the Malawi goalie.
Wubetu Abate introduced Gatoch Panom and Shemeles Bekele to galvanize the midfield, and those two changes proved to be the turning point as Ethiopia were the dominant side in the second half.
In the second half, Abubeker Nasser was dropping deep to receive the ball and take on people, his clever movement with and without the ball created havoc on the Malawi defense.
But in the 68th minute “The Walia’s” were awarded a penalty kick after second half substitute Cherenet Guggsa was brought down in Malawi’s box, Abubeker Nasser calmly slotted home from the resulting kick to lift his side.
The remaining 20 minutes witnessed the Ethiopian side pushing hard for the equalizer but they couldn’t create those clear cut chances with their effort mainly restricted to playing the ball in front of Malawi’s defensive block.
With the other fixture in “Group D” between Egypt and Guinea taking place later today, Ethiopia currently bottom of the group will be taking on Egypt, the runners up of the 2021 edition of Afcon in four days times at the Bingu national stadium.