Ethiopia and Zimbabwe will continue their respective World Cup 2022 qualification campaigns with a clash at Bahir Dar Stadium on Tuesday evening.
Zimbabwe opened their Group G challenge with a goalless draw against South Africa on Friday, while Ethiopia suffered a 1-0 loss to Ghana, which has left them at the bottom of the section on zero points.
Ethiopia held their own for long stages of the clash with Ghana on Friday, but the match ultimately ended in disappointment, as Mubarak Wakaso’s first-half strike handed the home side all three points.
There is still a lot of football to be played in Group G, but it was a frustrating start for Ethiopia, who had entered the clash with Ghana off the back of a morale-boosting friendly win over Uganda at the end of August.
Wubetu Abate’s side have never managed to qualify for the finals of a World Cup, but they will be present at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations – their first participation in the finals of the tournament since 2013.
Walia Ibex will know that they are up against it when it comes to finishing top of Group G, but a positive result on Tuesday would lead them nicely into their next match against South Africa on October 10.
Ethiopia will actually face South Africa twice in back-to-back fixtures in October before ending this part of qualification with matches against Ghana and Zimbabwe in November.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, opened their qualification campaign with a goalless draw against South Africa on Friday, which has left them in third spot in the group, two points behind leaders Ghana.
The Warriors have also never managed to qualify for the finals of a World Cup, but they will also play in the Africa Cup of Nations next year, which will take place in Cameroon between January and February.
Zdravko Logarusic’s side are actually on a six-game winless run in all competitions, while they have won just once since November 2019, meaning that confidence will not exactly be flowing in the camp.
Zimbabwe will have been encouraged by their performance against South Africa, though, and they will be desperate to put a win on the board ahead of a difficult clash away to Ghana on October 5.
Ethiopia have no outfield injury concerns from their defeat to Ghana on Friday, and the manner of the performance will have impressed head coach Abate, who is unlikely to make many changes.
Walia Ibex lined up in a 4-3-3 formation last time out and that is again expected to be the case here, with leading goalscorer Getaneh Kebede operating at the tip of the attack.
Amanuel Gebremichael and Abubeker Nasir should also retain their spots in the side, while Yehun Endeshaw is likely to feature in the middle of the park for the home side.
There could be a change between the sticks, though, as Balcha Shanko had to be replaced at the interval of the match against Ghana, so Fasil Gebremichael is likely to feature in goal.
Zimbabwe, meanwhile, lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against South Africa on Friday, with the captain Knowledge Musona operating in the number 10 position.
Musona, who has scored 23 times for his country, is a certain starter once again, while Lyon’s Tino Kadewere should lead the line for the visitors on Tuesday night.
Elsewhere, Khama Billiat is likely to retain his spot in the side, but Aston Villa’s Marvelous Nakamba will seemingly not be available due to issues over the 10-day isolation period that would need to be observed upon his return to England from international duty.
Ethiopia possible starting lineup:
F Gebremichael; Tonjo, Tamene, Baye, Yesuf; Endeshaw, Solomon, Bekele; Nasir, Kebede, A Gebremichael
Zimbabwe possible starting lineup:
Shumba; Chimwemwe, Lunga, Mudimu, Bhasera; Kamusoko, Munetsi; Billiat, Musona, Mahachi; Kadewere
We say: Ethiopia 1-1 Zimbabwe
Both sides will believe that they can cause problems in the final third of the field, but we are predicting a tight match on Tuesday. Ethiopia impressed against Ghana but could find Zimbabwe difficult to overcome, which has led us to predict a low-scoring draw in this World Cup qualification fixture.