Malawi and Ethiopia will both be looking to bounce back from weekend defeats when they clash at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Wednesday in a Group B Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Ethiopia put up a strong and spirited performance at home to Algeria on Saturday but missed several glorious chances in the first half that could have given them a massive win ,However goals from El Arbi Soudani and Yacine Brahimi took the North Africans to a 2-1 victory in Addis Ababa. Saladin Said netted the Walia Ibex consolation goal in injury time to settle the game at 1-2.
In head-to-head terms, the Flames and Walia Ibex have clashed in nine official international matches. Each side has two wins to their name, there have been five draws, and the Southern Africans have a slight edge when it comes to goals scored: eight versus seven.
The opening round defeat for both teams means this midweek clash takes on significant importance. Remember that only the top two teams from each group, as well as the single best third-placed team, qualify for the AFCON finals in Morocco next year. Therefore, a loss for either Ethiopia or Malawi would be a crippling blow to their hopes of reaching the continental showpiece tournament.
Malawi crushed 2-0 away to Mali, with goals from Bakary Sako and Cheick Diabate taking the West Africans to victory.
Today’s is significant as it will be the first time that they are meeting in any form of the Africa Cup of Nations. Their only previous competitive matches were World Cup qualifiers back in 2003: in a two-leg playoff, Malawi won 3-1 on aggregate (0-0 in Blantyre in the first leg, 3-1 in Addis Ababa in the return).
The teams have in fact played to three successive draws in all of their most recent meetings: 1-1 in Dar Es Salaam in December 2010; 0-0 in Addis Ababa in October 2011; and 1-1 in Dar Es Salaam in December 2011.
The referee for Wednesday’s match at the Kamuzu Stadium is Mohamed Hussein El-Fadil of Sudan.
Both Ethiopia and Malawi stagger onto the artificial turf battered, bruised, angry and exhausted after severe and merciless 2-0 and 2-1 whipping by Mali and Algeria away and at home on Sunday and Saturday respectively.
For Ethiopia’s coach Mariano Barreto Wednesday’s game is a must-win . While Malawi are ranked 106 Ethiopia on the other hand are ranked 112th in the latest FIFA Coca Cola rankings
Malawi will depend on their playmakers as coach Young Chimodzi looks to get the elusive win.
Ng’ambi will be the Flames creative hub hoping to provide better service to the front line which Chiukepo Msowoya leads, despite not scoring in the last three games. Frank Gabadinho Mhango remains the second plan for coach Young Chimodzi.
Malawi however have a tough job in their hands lining up against the Ethiopians is quite a challenge. Fresh from three-week Brazil tour that help motivate the team.
Walia Ibex have the luxury of using their lethal striking force that comprises Egypt based Salhadin Said of Al Ahly,Umed Ukuri of Al Ittihad also in Egypt and Getaneh Kebede of Bidvest Wits in South Africa.
The creative hub remains ever fresh and speedy Shemeles Bekele who afew days ago joined Petrojet also in the Egyptian league.
Coach Mariano Barreto gamble on youngsters Natnael Zeleke and Taddele Mengesha paid off handsomely as the duo proved all doubting thomasses with virtuoso performance against Algeria despite not even being regulars in their clubs.
Adane Girma looks set to start to provide the team with depth while in defence Mariano will stick to the tried and tasted quartet of Thok James,Alula Girma,Abebaw Butako and Salhadin Bargecho who looked solid against Algeria despite the unfortunate defensive lapses that created room for the Algeria goals.
Despite the school boy blunder that saw Algeria score their first goal ,Jemal Tasew will sure make the starting line up between the post if at all he is not overtaken by Sisay Bancha.
Ethiopia Probable v Malawi 4-3-3 used by Barreto in the second half against Algeria:
Defence:Alula Girma,Abebaw Butako,Thok James and Salhadin Bargecho
Midfield:Shemeles Bekele,Natnael Zeleke,Taddele and Adane Girma
Strikers:Salhadin Said ,Getaneh Kebede and Umed Ukuri
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