The Ethiopian national team lost to Rwanda 3-2 on home soil in the 2018 Total African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier playoffs first leg game played out in Addis Ababa Stadium. The Walias failed to protect their slander lead as they conceded twice in two minutes. Rwanda now have took an advantage ahead of the return leg in Kigali next weekend.
The homers started off the duel on a bright note while Rwanda’s backline hold firm for much of the first interval. Walias were the first to attempt on goal when Mesude Mohammed’s superb pass found Abubakher Sani whose shot was saved by Rwandan custodian Eric Ndayishimiye four minutes after the onset. Ethiopia took an early lead through Asechalew Girma in the 17th minute. Mesude yet again releases his club teammate Asechalew as the winger rounded Ndayishimiye to slot home for the early lead. Amavubi’s pushed to get an equalizer, however their efforts were futile for much of the interval.
After the resumption the homers put up a spirited fight but that was not enough to beat Rwanda. Eric Rutanga equalized through a beautifully taken free kick from 20 meter out leaving Ethiopian goalie Lealem Birhanu stranded ten minutes after the recess. Ethiopia showed much urgency to retake the lead and were rewarded in the 65 minute when Abubakher, who had a remarkable game, heads in a perfect delivery from Samson Tilahun. Waliyas yet again tested Ndayishimiye in two occasions but the goalkeeper was in a fine form to deny Ethiopia from extending the lead.
Ndayishimiye twice parried away Getaneh Kebede’s header and free kick. Meanwhile, Samson skied a good scoring opportunity in the 75th minute. The missed chances haunted the home side later on as Amavubi struck twice in the last 12 minutes to take a 3-2 lead back to Kigali. Second half substitute Muhadjiri Hakizimana capitalizes on Lealem’s blunder to level matters in the 78th minute. Abeddy Biramahire then realized Amavubi’s comeback when he fired past Lealem after collecting the ball from a rebound 10 minutes from time.
Ethiopia’s woeful form continued on as Waliays lost four games in row in all competitions. The return leg of the playoff will be held next weekend on November 12 in Kigali with winner booking a place in next year’s CHAN, which is due in Morocco.
Ethiopia coach Ashenafi Bekele
“It was not a bad game. But the goals we conceded left us demoralized. I want to apologize to the public. We have not able to get good results in recent time; I want to apologize for that. We had finishing problems. If you don’t have good forwards, it will cost. I have said this over and over again; these are the only players we have got. It is beyond my capacity. I sincerely apologize for what happened.”
Rwanda coach Antoine Hey
“We are very happy with the result. You know coming back two times after trailing at half time. It was very hard to take but our players dealt with it. It shows the mentality we have and we are very happy with the result and the match in general. You see we have a very young team and you can see 20 and 21 years old boy. It is new for them to play in this kind of atmosphere and they have done extremely well.”