Ethiopian Coffee denied cross city rivals Saint George the chance to extend their lead at the top of the Ethiopia Premier League after a barren draw in the derby, a Week 18 fixture on Sunday at the Addis Ababa Stadium, Addis Ababa.
The draw leaves Saint George still at the summit with 37 points, seven clear of second placed Adama City. Ethiopian Coffee occupy a distant fifth, nine points shy of the leaders.
The ‘Horsemen’ as Saint George are nicknamed came very close take an early lead through Adane Girma, whose overhead kick was cleared off the line by the Ethiopian Coffee backline.
Forward Salahdin Said’s header from a rebound on 12 minutes was denied by Cameroonian defender Eko Fevor. Saint George continued to fight for the opener and five minutes later Said forced a good save from Coffee goalkeeper Harrison Hessou.
Said should have given the table toppers the lead in the 29th minute with a header from Ramkel Lok’s cross, which went off target.
Ethiopian Coffee momentarily found their rhythm leading to some dominance at the middle. Towards the end of the half, striker Sadik Secho tested the stranded Robert Odongkara for Coffee’s first meaningful attempt on goal, but his diving header went inches wide.
Substitute Nigerian Godwin Chika almost opened his Ethiopian Premier League account few minutes after recess with a shot that was no trouble for the Coffee goalkeeper.
Girma, Saint Gerorge’s top scorer in the current season, was also guilty of spurning two chances that could have put his side in front.
One-time Ethiopia champions, Coffee are undefeated in their last five games.
Mart Nooij (Head Coach, Saint George)
I think the fans witnessed a good game. Since it was the biggest duel of the country and also the toughest one, you expect special things and surprises to occur, but I am glad with the way my team has played. Both teams were at their best in defending and that resulted fewer attempts at goal. All in all, it was a good game.
Dragan Popadic (Head Coach, Ethiopian Coffee)
We missed some great chances. We came to this game having lost our two strikers. We were having problems upfront as we lacked the edge. That was our major problem. I think my team played really well. All the boys gave their best but all we needed was a goal poacher. I know our fans are not happy but we will try to win the next game.