Ethiopia hosted Niger on Sunday in an international friendly in preparation for the 2013 African Cup of Nations. The game played at the Addis Ababa Stadium saw the hosts beat visitors Niger one goal to nil.
Coach Sewnet Bishaw was without the service of star forwards Adane Girma and Saladin Said. Adane Girma missed the game due to a minor training injury while Saladin is yet to join the team.
The game started to a slower pace with both sides following a conservative approach and trying to go forward with only long balls. It was Niger who had the first chance of the game after a sloppy defensive mix-up in the Ethiopian box. However, the Nigerien attacker shot straight to the keeper and Ethiopia survived.
The lone goal of the game came in the 39th minute when the Right-back Seyoum Tesfaye went past two defenders and sent a low cross in to the penalty box. Dedebit FC‘s striker Getaneh Kebede received the cross, beat a defender and the goal keeper and shot home from a sheer-angle in some style.
Coach Sewnet Bishaw substituted four players at the half-time break with Alula Girma, Behailu Asefa, Berhanu Bogale and Fuad Ibrahim coming in for Seyoum Tesfaye, Asrat Megersa, Abebaw Butako and Oumed Ukuri.
The second half kicked-off with Niger trying to get an equalizer but Ethiopia were able to keep them at bay. Later on, Sweden-based Yusuf Saleh came in for Minyahil Teshome and was able to add some width to the Ethiopian side with his runs along the left wing. Sewnet’s decision to bring on Coffee FC midfielder Dawit Estifanos in an attempt to stabilize the middle pack proved to be successful as the player was able to calm the shaky midfield and create some chances. A beautifully curved free kick from Dawit was punched out by the Niger keeper in the 76th minute.
The best chances of the second half were missed by Yusuf Saleh. The winger narrowly missed to hit the ball when Alula Girma’s low cross flew past the mouth of the goal. It was the same story 10 minutes later as Yusuf was not able to control a Getaneh Kebede cross as the goal keeper came out and clutch the ball from his feet.
There were some long distance shots and individual efforts from the Niger side but they were all in vain as they were not clicking with each other as the Ethiopians were. The match ended 1-0 with the Ethiopian fans at the stadium singing the song Yergeb Amora.
This was the first friendly match for Ethiopia while it was the third for Niger. The Ethiopian team is expected to play Guinea at home and Tunisia in Qatar before jetting-off to South Africa for AFCON 2013. Niger will be looking forward to their final friendly match against Togo before the tournament.
On a similar note, there are unconfirmed reports that the planned friendly match against Guinea has been abandoned. The football federations of the two countries are believed to have not come to terms on the date of the game. Guinea had confirmed December 29 as a friendly date against Bahrain but the game was changed to Monday, January 1. Due to their new schedule, they wanted to play Ethiopia next Friday but the EFF want the game no later than Thursday as it will overlap with Ethiopia’s last friendly against Tunisia.