Tuesday Sep 09, 2014. 10:36
Malawi will look to bounce back from a weekend defeat when they host Ethiopia in Blantyre on Wednesday in a Group B Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Malawi were beaten 2-0 away to Mali in their opening qualifier on Sunday, with goals from Bakary Sako and Cheick Diabate taking the West Africans to victory. The Flames had a tumultuous build-up to the match and were also unhappy with the quality of their hotel.
Ethiopia, meanwhile, put up a strong performance at home to Algeria on Saturday, but goals from El Arbi Soudani and Yacine Brahimi took the North Africans to a 2-1 victory in Addis Abababa. Saladin Said netted the Walia Antelopes’ consolation goal in injury time.
The opening round defeat for both teams means this midweek clash takes on significant importance. Remember that only the top two teams from each group, as well as the single best third-placed team, qualify for the AFCON finals in Morocco next year. Therefore, a loss for either Ethiopia or Malawi would be a crippling blow to their hopes of reaching the continental showpiece tournament.
In head-to-head terms, the Flames and Antelopes have clashed in nine official international matches. Each side has two wins to their name, there have been five draws, and the Southern Africans have a slight edge when it comes to goals scored: eight versus seven.
This match will be the first time that they are meeting in any form of the Africa Cup of Nations. Their only previous competitive matches were World Cup qualifiers back in 2003: in a two-leg playoff, Malawi won 3-1 on aggregate (0-0 in Blantyre in the first leg, 3-1 in Addis Ababa in the return).
The teams have in fact played to three successive draws in all of their most recent meetings: 1-1 in Dar Es Salaam in December 2010; 0-0 in Addis Ababa in October 2011; and 1-1 in Dar Es Salaam in December 2011.
The referee for Wednesday’s match at the Kamuzu Stadium is Mohamed Hussein El-Fadil of Sudan.
Source: MTN Football