The Walia Ibex have failed to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire following a goalless draw with Malawi on Tuesday.
Ethiopia played host to Malawi at the at Estadio do Zimpeto Stadium in Mozambique’s capital Maputo, with both the Walia Ibex and the Flames desperately needing a win to keep their hopes alive.
They were tied in Group D, with three points apiece, with a chance to overhaul second-placed Guinea. Egypt had already secured their place in a top spot of the group with 12 points.
The Malawian side started the match with determination, creating several scoring opportunities against Ethiopia.
However, their efforts were repeatedly thwarted by a resolute Ethiopian defense. Despite dominating possession and launching relentless attacks, Malawi struggled to find the breakthrough they desperately needed.
During halftime, Malawi coach Patrick Mabedi made tactical twick, with three attacking changes. But it was Ethiopia that were the much improved side after the restart, and created their first clear chance in the 55th minute.
Binyam Belay played a superb cross from the left to pick out the unmarked Kanaan Markneh, but the latter’s shot from close range was clawed away by Malawi goalkeeper Brighton Munthali.
The Walia Ibex threatened again with just under 20 minutes of regulation time to play, as substitute attacker Yusuf Tarekgen drove into the penalty area and fired a shot on target, but Munthali made a comfortable save.
The Malawian keeper was soon in key action again, intercepting Binyam’s low cross from the left. The ‘hosts’ continued to build attacking momentum but failed to create clear chances.
The match ended 0-0 with two sides getting their fourth point in the campaign on matchday five.
The stalemate effectively ended any hopes of qualification for both Ethiopia and Malawi, guaranteeing Guinea a passage to next year’s tournament with the second-place finish in the group.
Malawi and Ethiopia will now shift their focus to finishing the campaign on a positive note when play Guinea and Egypt, respectively, in the final round of qualifiers in September.
Fifteen teams have so far booked tickets for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations to be played in Côte d’Ivoire from Jan 13 and Feb 11, 2024.