Tuesday Mar 23, 2021. 11:00
Madagascar will seek a crucial away win when they face hosts Ethiopia in an Africa Cup of Nations Group K qualifier at the Bahir Dar Stadium on Wednesday 24 March 2021, kick-off at 15:00 CAT.
The Walias and Barea are just a point apart in third and second place respectively, with this match likely to prove decisive in who joins group favourites and leaders Ivory Coast (though only on head-to-heads) in qualification for Cameroon 2022.
Madagascar were somewhat unlucky to only take a point from their two matches with Ivory Coast in November 2020, narrowly losing 2-1 in Abidjan before a 1-1 draw in the return game in Toamasina.
Barea are well placed to secure a second AFCON tournament appearance after their debut in 2019, but coach Nicolas Dupuis has warned that their upcoming opponents have the hunger to return to the continental showpiece for the first time since 2013.
“The morale of the group is at the top,” said Dupuis. “They are in a rush to play, to come together, to win and to qualify. However, the Ethiopians have the same mind as us.”
Ethiopia, meanwhile. had mixed results in the last set of qualifying games in November 2020, losing 1-0 away to Niger in Niamey, before bouncing back in style in the return game in Bahir Dar to thrash the West Africans 3-0, with goals from Amanuel Gebremichael, Mohamed Mesud and Getaneh Kebede.
Walias coach Wubetu Abate has called on his team to reproduce that kind of performance, though he is clearly concerned by defensive stability after calling on two extra centre-backs – Wendemeneh Dereje and Mesay Pawelos – to provide additional cover to the original squad of 25 named earlier this month.
In head-to-head stats, Ethiopia and Madagascar have met in three matches in international football since 2010. The Walias have claimed two wins compared to one for Barea. When the teams met in their first Group K match in November 2019, Madagascar claimed a 1-0 victory in Antananarivo thanks to a goal from Rayan Raveloson.