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Ethiopia Hope To Tame Cape Verde’s Sharks

Ethiopia are hoping to overcome Cape Verde in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group A game at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde on Sunday, 9 January.

Kick-off is at 19h00 GMT.

The Walia Ibex are keen to end their 60-year wait for another Africa Cup of Nations title. They won the 1962 title when they hosted the third edition of the tournament.

Ethiopia under coach Wubetu Abate has built a strong team in the last one year and they managed to do well in the Afcon and World Cup qualifiers.

The East Africans managed to finish second in Group K in the preliminaries behind favourites Ivory Coast and will be looking to get out of the group stage, something they have not managed in four tournament appearances.

Building up to AFCON, Ethiopia beat Sudan 3-2 in a friendly and coach Abate will be banking on the likes of Getaneh Kebede,  Abubeker Nassir and Amanuel Yohannes.

“We are in a tough group including hosts Cameroon. We are coming to the tournament aiming to qualify to next stage and to go to as far as we can. Almost 99% of our squad is based in the local league but mostly they are young and promising,” the coach said.

Their opponents Cape Verde are something of an unknown quantity in past few years, with the 2013 AFCON as their most successful outing when they reached at the quarter-finals.

The Blue Sharks secured qualification by finishing as runners-up to Cape Verde in Group F of the preliminaries. The Islanders boast stars such as Ryan Isaac Mendes da Graça, Garry Men des Rodrigues and Marco Soare.

In 2021, Cape Verde won five of their nine matches, losing twice (only once – their 2-1 loss to Nigeria – competitively) and scoring in every match bar one.

As per FIFA’s rankings for December 2021, Cape Verde is Africa’s 14th-best nation, and comes in at 73 in the world

Cape Verde coach Pedro Leitão Brito “Bubista” has built the team that creates chances from the flanks  and they often play short combinations in the middle of the pitch, before firing big switches to change the emphasis of the attack and hit the attackers with crosses.

“Our ambition is to grow as a team during the competition. We want and need to pass the group stages. We have the utmost respect for our opponents, but we will fight to the limit,” the gaffer said before departing for Cameroon.

In head-to-head stats, Ethiopia and Cape Verde have never met in any competitive match and the Blue Sharks will be expecting to face a stubborn Walia Ibex side in their first Group A game.

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