Ethiopia cause setback for Zambians
Moment of the match: The underdogs, Ethiopia, took the game to the African champions, and were in complete control before their goalkeeper, Jemal Tassew, was red-carded in the 34th minute.
Player to watch: Saladin Said. The Egyptian-based forward was a handful to the Zambians despite missing a penalty in the first half. The 24-year-old will be one of finds of the tournament.
Ethiopia garnered a credible point after holding defending champions Zambia to a 1-1 draw in their Group C Africa Cup of Nations match at Mbombela Stadium.
The East Africans dominated the below-par Zambians tonight, despite Chipolopolo taking a 45th-minute lead through Collins Mbesuma to the interval.
Then the pacy Walya Antelopes sprung back to action with an Adane Girma strike after 64 minutes that sent celebrations around the Mpumalanga venue.
Ethiopia’s pace had caused moments of panic in the wobbly Zambian defence in the opening half, and they should have been two goals ahead inside 30 minutes.
First, a lob over goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene in the 18th minute went narrowly over the bar after confusion between Stopilla Sunzu and Joseph Musonda at the back.
Then Saladin Said had his weak spot kick saved by Mweene after the winger dusted himself off to take the penalty after being fouled by Lungu Chisamba inside the box.
The Ethiopian momentum decreased after they were reduced to 10 men in the 33rd minute after goalkeeper Jemal Tassew was red-carded – with outfield player Godo Bekele being sacrificed – for kicking Chisamba.
This led to the match being temporarily stopped as the Ethiopian fans protested the dismissal by throwing missiles at the Zambians and the match officials.
Mbesuma then snuck in to give the Zambians the lead on the stroke of half-time that should have been doubled by Chris Katongo on the hour mark, with the winger’s shot going wide of goal.
Ethiopia regained their energy as Said found Girma inside the area for the crucial equaliser at an awkward angle.
While the one point gained from the fixture is a setback for the Zambians, it gives hope to the Ethiopians, considered to be the wooden-spooners in the group.