By Tione Andsen,
Lilongwe, Mana; Rejuvenated, Ethiopia Thursday evening beat the Pharaohs of Egypt 2-0 at Bingu National Stadium in Area 48, Lilongwe to go top of Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers Group D.
With Ethiopians win and Malawi’s 1-0 defeat to Guinea, Group D is now wide open to all teams from the first two rounds of matches.
The Ethiopians are leading the packed with three points have a better goal advantage over Malawi which is second, Guinea are third and Egyptians are anchoring the group.
Over 15,000 spectators watched one of the best entertaining 2023 AFCON qualifiers and the six start display by Ethiopians made the seven time AFCON Champions look like an average team.
Without, their Liverpool star, Mohammad Salah nursing an injury and Arsenal midfielder, Mohammed Elneny, the Pharaohs failed to attack and control the midfielder where Ethiopians central midfielder dubbed Ethiopian “Vieira” Panom Yiech and Amanuel Gamo dominated play.
They mainly struggled in the first half and they tried to come back into the game after Coach Ehab Galal had made a triple substitution just to miute to half time.
Egypt were lack to beat Guinea 1-0 at home in the dying minutes while Flames of Malawi recorded their first win in the opener with a 2-1 win over Ethiopia.
Ethiopian midfielder, Yeich had his long range drive saved by Egyptian keeper, Mohammad Gabal in the 20th minute.
Ethiopians went into lead three minutes later when right back, Asrat Toylo’s cross into the box was planted home by Ayamn Ashraf.
Two minutes later in another wave of attack saw Ashraf hit the post after eluding Egyptian keeper, Gabal and their cenral defenders, Amro Elsoulia and Mahmoud Attia n5 looked much disoriented.
Ethiopia could have increased the scores in the 34th minute through Abubeker Ahmed but his goal was goal was ruled out by Burundian referee, Georges Gatogar.
Six to minutes to recess, Ethiopian were countering attacking dangerously on the right flank made it 2-0 through Amauel Aregawa when Toylo had sent another inviting cross into the box.
With the second goal, Egypt made triple substitution they rested Elsoulia, Mady Moursy and Attia for Omar Sayed, Ahmed Mohamed and Mohammad Ahmed.
The two teams went to break when the hosts Ethipiona were comfortably leading 2-0.
The Egyptian came into the game with new approach in the second half and with the additions of new players on the pitch they started playing an attacking football.
Through half way mark, word went into the stands that Malawi had scored in Guinea and uproar was heard but later was learnt it was force.
Egyptians continued pressing through Omar and Mostafa Abdalla but they failed to unlock Ethiopian defence marshaled by Yared Belay and Mignot Dada.
Ethiopia ‘striker, Ahmed could have buried the Egyptians on the dot when his shot was brilliantly tamed the Egyptian keeper.
“We have watched a different Ethiopian team and have displayed one of the best games in the qualifiers for the 2023 final. They utilized their counter attacks and paid dividend to them,” Soccer follower, Jimmy Mussa said.
He said if they continue playing like this they will qualify as group winners from Group D.
Another soccer fan from Area 25, Jack Chonzi said the absence of key stars from Egypt had an impact on their attacking pattern.
“Can you imagine not shot at goal the entire first half and Ethiopia dominated the midfield as if they are doing training,” he observed.