Ethiopia coach Abraham Mebratu has named a 23 man squad for the Group F Day Two encounter against Sierra Leone on Sunday in Hawassa.
Mebratu’s charges are predominantly comprised of locally-based players, with only plying their trade outside the shores of Ethiopia. The quartet include Egypt-based trio Shemeles Bekele, Gatoch Panom and Omod Okori, and midfielder Biniyam Belay, on the books of Albanian champions Skënderbeu Korçë.
Veteran forward Getaneh Kebede and experienced duo, Behailu Assefa and Samson Assefa also made the final cut.
The Walias trainer Mebratu at his unveiling last month told reporters he would be very cautious in assembling his squad for his debut competitive game against the Leone Stars. “For now we can only look after players with international game experience and exposure. It is a process so we will be calling up other new faces in the future. For the upcoming two decisive fixtures against Sierra Leone and Kenya, we will stick with this squad.”
Notable absentees are goalie Abel Mamo, playmaker Tafese Solomon and defender Addis Tesfaye. However, Ethiopian U-20 national side custodian Tsion Merede is a surprise inclusion.
The Walias are pointless after a 5-0 loss to Ghana in Kumasi in June 2017. Sierra also beat Kenya 2-1 in Freetown.
Kenya host Ghana in the other Group E clash also on Sunday in Nairobi.
Goalkeepers: Samson Assefa (Dire Dawa City), Tekelemariam Shanko (Hawassa City), Tsion Merede (ArbaMinch City)
Defenders: Abdulkerim Mohammed, Asechalew Tamene, Henok Adugna, Salahdin Bargicho (all from Saint George), Anteneh Tesfaye (Dire Dawa City), Mujib Kassim, Amsalu Tilahun (both from Fasil Kenema), Ahmed Reshid (Ethiopian Coffee)
Midfielders: Mulualem Mesfin, Natnael Zeleke, Behailu Assefa (all from Saint George), Gatoch Panom (El Gouna, Egypt), Shemeles Bekele (Petrojet, Egypt), Biniyam Belay (Skënderbeu Korçë, Albania), Amanuel Yohannes (Ethiopian Coffee)
Forwards: Getaneh Kebede, Abel Yalew (both from Saint George), Omod Okuri (Smouha SC, Egypt), Dawa Hotessa (Adama City), Addis Gidey (Sidama Coffee)