AFRICA: World Cup – Qualification
Time: 8:00 PM
Venue: Cape Coast Sports Stadium (Cape Coast)
Ghana and Ethiopia will both kick off their World Cup Qualifying group campaigns on Friday, when they square off in the opening round of games.
The visitors had to earn their spot in the group with a knockout game against Lesotho, while their hosts come in with high hopes of reaching next year’s tournament as one of the group favourites.
In a difficult spell for the national side, they failed to impress in the African Cup of Nations a year later, as the Black Stars were dumped out by Tunisia at the round-of-16 stage, falling short in a penalty shootout after a 92nd-minute Rami Bedoui own goal saw them draw level in regular time.
Since that disappointing run, Ghana have bounced back relatively well, booking their spot in next year’s African Cup of nations as they topped their qualification group with 13 points from six matches.
However, the most recent round of friendlies in June saw them fall to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Morocco, before they played out a goalless draw with Ivory Coast last time out.
Hoping to avoid another four years without an appearance at the World Cup, Charles Akonnor’s men will be hopeful of getting off to a winning start on Friday, as they take on an Ethiopia side who only scraped through the first round to reach this stage.
A two-legged tie with Lesotho stood between Friday’s visitors and the qualification group, and the Walia ibex progressed by the barest of margins in 2019. They drew 0-0 on home turf, and a Nkau Lerotholi own goal saw the away leg finish 1-1, with Ethiopia winning the tie on away goals as a result.
Since that triumph, they have won five of 14 games in all competitions, beginning with an eye-catching 2-1 victory over Ivory Coast in African Cup of Nations Qualification, before they went on an impressive run of form either side of the turn of the year.
Wubetu Abate’s side rounded off 2020 with a 3-0 AFCON Qualifying win over Niger, before returning to action in March with back-to-back 4-0 wins, firstly defeating Malawi in a friendly before cruising past Mozambique in the qualifying group.
That form saw them reach next year’s continental competition, and on the back of a 2-1 win over Uganda on Sunday, they will hope to defy the odds and start with a victory in their attempt to reach the World Cup for the first time in the nation’s history.
- Ghana’s form in last 5 matches: DLWDL.
- Ethiopia’s form in last 5 matches: DLWDL.