ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia and Cape Verde face off in the second match of Match Day 1 of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations for the account of Group A on Sunday
Both sides are drawn against hosts Cameroon and Burkina Faso in Group A – two of Africa’s top 10 football teams as per the FIFA’s 2021 December ranking.
Every game, therefore, holds significance for either side, with just two teams making it into the knockout stage from each group.
Their History in AFCON
Ethiopia, who are appearing at their 11 finals, won the tournament in 1962, beating Egypt to the title on home soil. This is, however, only their second appearance for the Walia Ibex in the last 20 editions of the tournament, and their first since 2013.
Cape Verde’s Blue Sharks, on the other hand, are appearing at their third finals after reaching the quarter-finals on their debut in 2013 and playing again two years later. Five of their seven games at the tournament so far have ended in a draw, with their solitary win taking place against Angola in the 2013 group stages (2-1).
As per the recent FIFA World Rankings for Dec 2021, Ethiopia ranks 137th in the world, and is 40th best in Africa.
Cape Verde, on the other hand, is Africa’s 14th-best nation, and comes in at 73 in the world.
Head-to-Head & Form
Sunday’s game will be the first time both teams will be facing each other in the AFCON finals.
Ethiopia form guide (all competitions): W-D-D-L-L
Cape Verde form guide (all competitions): D-W-W-W-L
Ethiopia: The Walias Ibex were the first team to reach Cameroon and have been training regularly since the last week of December. They won their friendly match against Sudan 3:2 in Cameroon.
Of the 28-man squad announced for the competition, all players have trained normally ahead of the campaign opener and are in contention to start here. No Covid cases reported in the training camp.
Cape Verde: The team will be looking to continue that form and have named a solid 28-man squad for the competition.
According to reports, there were a few cases of Covid-19 reported in the training camp, but as is often the case, the identity of the players has not been revealed. There are no reported injuries for the first game of the competition for Cape Verde.
Ethiopia possible lineup (4-3-3): Teklemariam Shanko; Asrat Tunjo, Suleiman Hamid, Remedan Yesouf, Desta Yohannes; Mesoud Mohammed, Fitsum Alemu, Firew Solomon; Abubeker Nassir, Getaneh Kebede, Amanuel Gebremichael
Cape Verde Predicted XI (4-4-2): Marcio da Rosa; Stopira, Joao Paulo Fernandes, Jeffry Fortes, Steve Furtado; Jamiro Monteior, Marco Soares, Kenny Rocha, Nuno Borges; Djaniny Semedo, Julio Tavares
Players to watch
While Ethiopia have named predominantly domestic-based players in their 25, Cape Verde’s 26-man squad has just one locally-based player.
From Ethiopia: Midfield maestro Shemelis Bekele and captain Getaneh Kebede lead the squad while young star Abubeker Nasir, the top scorer in the 2020-21 Ethiopian Premier League, is one to keep an eye on.
From Cape Verde: With 12 goals in 55 appearances for the national team, Al-Nasr’s Ryan Mendes will be one of the players to keep an eye on in Group A. Left wing-back Dylan Tavares is often the beneficiary of the aforementioned raking diagonals, and times his runs well to get in behind opposing defences, and Steven Fortes leads the back line with experience.
Date, Kick-off time, and Venue
The second Group A game between Ethiopia and Cape Verde is scheduled for Sunday, January 9, 2022, at the Stade Olembe in Yaounde. The kick-off time for the match is 19:00 GMT.
A low-scoring draw is the most likely outcome from the game. But such an outcome serves neither of the teams any good considering their next fixtures. Only one of Cape Verde’s seven previous games at the Afcon has produced more than two goals.
Group A fixtures
Sunday 9 January: Cameroon v Burkina Faso, Ethiopia v Cape Verde
Thursday 13 January: Cameroon v Ethiopia, Cape Verde v Burkina Faso
Monday 17 January: Burkina Faso v Ethiopia, Cape Verde v Cameroon
Getaneh Kebede is expected to lead the Walia Ibex as capital [Photo File]