After a 31 year participation hiatus, Ethiopia played its first match on the 2013 African Cup of Nations hosted by South Africa and held the defending champions Zambia to a 1-1 draw. For a team which has been lost from the competition for so long, things looked grim when Ethiopia missed a sitter chance, was reduced to ten men and conceded a goal just at the stroke of half time. But the Ethiopian team also known as the Walya Antelopes fought back in the second half to score a goal and earn a deserved point from the match.
Right from the start of the match, Zambia team also known as Chipolopolo settled comfortably and started pressing forwards early in the game. They were restricted to long-range efforts that failed to bother the Ethiopian goalie Jemal Tassew. But the first real chance of the match fall to Ethiopia as a defensive lapse allowed a bouncing ball reach Saldin Seid who flicked the ball over the Zambian custodian and saw his effort bounce just over the bar.
Midway into the first half Saladin’s trickery resulted a foul in the penalty box and Ethiopia was awarded a spot kick. Saldin stepped up to take the penalty but his tame shot was well saved by Mweene. Then things turned sour for Ethiopia when a through ball was played to Lungu and Ethiopian custodian Tassew rushed out from his goal to smother the attacker but caught him in a nasty challenge that resulted his sending off. Then at the stroke of half time a nice exchange allowed Collins Mbesuma through and he scored the first goal for Zambia.
The Walya Antelopes started the second half strongly and were looking for a way back into the game. Then midway into the second half a slick pass from substitute Addis Hintsa found Saladin that laid the ball to Adane Girma and Adane fired a fierce shot to score Ethiopia’s first goal of the tournament. Zambia tried to respond and pushed forward but Ethiopia held up tightly at the back to finish the game 1-1.
The other teams in the group Nigeria and Burkina Faso also draw 1-1 in a later game. Ethiopia will next face Burkina Faso on January 25 at the same Mbombela stadium.