Addis Ababa, Ethiopia -Ã‚Â Ethiopia recorded a 2-0 victory over regional rivals Sudan in Addis Ababa in a friendly match set up by the African Union to mark the OAU/AU golden jubilee. The fixture was the first friendly match for the two national teams ahead of their crucial World Cup qualifier games next month.
Coach Sewnet Bishaw had only 22 players out of the 31-man preliminary squad available for selection as Saint George FC did not release players due to their rescheduled Ethiopian league match against EEPCO and the CAF Confederations Cup play-off round away leg against ENPPI.
CoffeeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s keeper Jemal Tassew was chosen over Sisay Bancha, while, at the backline; another Coffee youngster, Tok James, was given his debut for the National team. DedebitÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Aynalem Hailu paired with Tok to form a strong defensive line, Berhanu Bogale and Moges Tadesse completed the back four. Addis Hintsa, Asrat Megersa, and Tilahun Wolde all started the match at the middle with Behailu Assefa and Efrem Ashamo playing at the flanks. Getaneh Kebede was the only man upfront.
The Walya Antelopes started the game intending to score first but, apart from a couple of off target shots by Getaneh Kebede, were only able to test the Sudanese keeper only once through Efrem Ashamo who fired from outside the box targeting the top corner but the keeper was up to the task.
In the second half, Coach Sewnet handed another youngster, Saladin Bargecho of Insurance FC, his National team debut after he came in for Tilahun Wolde. Saladin, who was part of the CECAFA team last year but could not make it to Uganda due to passport issues, then opened the scoring 20 minutes later after receiving a low cross from a Behailu Assefa corner.
Sudan, then, pushed for an equalizer by throwing men forward but this move made them susceptible for a counter attack as made evident by EthiopiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s second goal. Getaneh Kebede received a long ball from the defence and passed it through to Behailu Assefa who controlled the ball and crossed it low. Despite being partially blocked by a Sudanese defender, the ball managed to find Addis Hintsa who scored the second goal with a simple tap-in. The game ended 2-0, and Aynalem Hailu, who was the skipper of the Antelopes in the absence of St GeorgeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Degu Debebe and Adane Girma, received the commemorative trophy from the President of the Confederation of African Football Mr. Issa Hayatou.
Sudan will now play its second friendly match against Tanzania on June 2ndÃ‚Â in Addis Ababa before heading home for their world cup qualifier game against Ghana. There are also unconfirmed reports about a possible friendly between Tanzania and Ethiopia. The Tanzanian National Team is expected to arrive in Addis on Monday.