Ethiopian giants, Saint George emerged victorious over Seychellois side St. Michel United 3-0 in their Orange CAF Champions League preliminary round first leg clash on Sunday in Addis Ababa Stadium.
The Ethiopians, experienced campaigners in this competition, took firm control of the game quickly as they mounted pressure on the visitor’s backline.
The ‘Horsemen’ as the host are nicknamed broke the deadlock in the 16th minute through veteran striker Adane Girma with a simple tap after collecting a pass from Ramkel Lok.
The homers almost doubled their lead midway when Natnael Zeleke set up Lok who fired a brilliant shot which missed from near post.
Ethiopia international Behailu Assefa made it 2-0 two minutes before the interval with a superb chip that left St. Michel goalie Gino Melanie stranded.
Despite having a two-goal cushion, Saint George failed to replicate their first half form. The visitors barely troubled the home side in the second half leaving Saint George custodian Robert Odongkara on a virtual holiday throughout.
The only notable attempt at goal by the Seychellois came from Hassan Aly’s whose effort sailed wide in the hour mark.
Nigeria-import Godwin Chika Okawara sealed the win ten minutes from time from a rebound. Chika was making his debut after completing his switch to the Ethiopian champions last January.
The result means Saint George take a comfortable 3-0 lead to Seychelles for the return leg in two weeks, where the winner will lock horns with holders TP Mazembe of DR Congo.
Mart Nooji (Head Coach, Saint George)
The game was very difficult for us because the opponent did not play open. They closed with eight and sometimes nine players at the back. It’s very difficult to find spaces in the defence of teams like that.
I thought it was a game with ups and downs. Particularly, the first part of the second half was not good for us. That was because my boys were nervous and feared not to concede a goal from the counter attack. After, we made an offensive substitution and we scored a very important third goal.
Andrew Jean-Louis (Head Coach, Saint Michel United)
The game was difficult in terms of the altitude and the wind, but I am satisfied with the result because Saint George profoundly deserved to win. They played better than us. When they come to Seychelles, we expect it will be a different result.