ADDIS ABABA – Two first-half goals from Dawa Hotessa and skipper Shemeles Bekele earned Ethiopia a comfortable 2-0 win over Egypt in the African cup of nations qualifier on Thursday.
Forced to play their home games away due to the unavailability of good stadiums, the Walia Ibex looked sharp from the start, cutting through their opponents with ease.
Dawa broke the deadlock after 21 minutes with a sliding finish that beat keeper Mohamed Abou Gabal. The forward stretched in to direct the ball home after some fine work from Abubaker Nasser who had done the donkey work on the right to lay in a cross.
Just before the goal, Ethiopia had tested Gabal with Gatuoch Panom’s shot from a distance which the keeper calmly collected.
Abubaker came inches close to making it 2-0 for Ethiopia in the 24th minute when he ran on to a through ball from the middle, but his shot past the keeper hit the upright and rolled away.
He thought he had scored in the 34th minute when he tapped home a cross from the right, but the referee’s flag was up for offside.
The Walia Ibex however finished the half with the second goal five minutes to the breakthrough Shemeles’s thumping shot from inside the box. The skipper had started the move himself, spreading to Amanuel Gebremichael who played him through on goal.
With their superstar Salah out with an injury, Egypt finished the first half without a single attempt as opposed to Ethiopia’s nine with the hosts also bossing possession at 51 percent.
Egypt made a surprising decision to throw in three changes, Magdy Afsha, Amr el Solia and Ayman Ashraf all coming off for Ibrahim Adel, Kamal Omar and Mohanad Lasheen. The changes made no difference.
After the break, Ethiopia continued to threaten with Dawa, Shimeles, and Abubakar getting in good areas with only poor decision-making preventing them from extending the lead.
Elsewhere in another Group D match in Conakry, Naby Keita scored late into added time as hosts Guinea beat Malawi 1-0 to storm to their first victory in the qualifiers.