Congo Brazzaville produced a virtuoso performance beating hosts Ethiopia Walia Ibex at home 4-3 in a high scoring 2018 World Cup qualifier played at the National Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
South African-based Getaneh Kebede, who is on loan at Amatuks from Bidvest Wits, broke the deadlock with a fine finish in the 41st minute but even before Ethiopia concluded their celebrations Thierry Bifouma pulled a goal back, capitalising from a blunder to equal the scores at 1-1 as the match went to the half-time break with both sides playing a balanced game.
However, upon resumption Congo came back rejuvenated after a half-time pep talk with coach Claude Le Roy and in the 63rd minute Fabrice Nguessi put Congo ahead after a schoolboy blunder by keeper Tarik Getnet as scores stood at 1-2.
Congo continued to pile more pressure on Ethiopia who looked nervy when Delvon Ndinga put Congo firmly ahead in with the third goal in the 75th minute pilling more misery on Ethiopia whose defence looked culpable.
The pressure from Congo remained relentless as they fired from all cylinders and their effort paid off handsomely in the 81st minute as Hardy Biangulia put them two goals up with a clinical finish suddenly leading the hosts 1-4, much to the disappointment of the fans.
However, the quick goals did not dampen the spirits of the Ethiopian players who rallied back, fighting tooth and nail, and just a minute later in the 82nd Dawit Fekadu scored Walia Ibex’s second goal as they found renewed vigour to try and mount a challenge against their strong opponents.
Mercurial attacking midfielder Shemelis Bekele scored Ethiopia’s third deep in stoppage time to give them hope but it was too late as they lost 4-3 in a high tempo and exciting game that lived up to the billing.
The return leg will be played next week in Brazaville at the Massamba Debut Stadium where Ethiopia will have the audacious job of trying to overturn the massive result.
Ethiopia XI v Congo: Tarik Getnet, Siyum Tasfaye ,Aschalo Tamane, Saladin Bargecho, Najib Sani, Aschalo Girma Gatoch Panom, Shimalis Bekele, Bereket Yisak, Getane kebede, Dawit Fikadu.
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