Harambee Stars hold Ethiopia in Bahir Dar to move top
Full Time : Ethiopia 0-0 Kenya
Harambee Stars withheld a second half surge from Ethiopia to pick a 0-0 draw at the Bahir Dar Stadium on Wednesday to move top of group F of the 2019 African Cup of Nations qualifiers on four points. With Sierra Leone’s fate after their FIFA suspension hanging in the balance, Kenya might actually seal an AFCON slot on Sunday if they beat Ethiopia in the return leg.
If CAF withdraws Sierra Leone from the qualifiers, then their 2-1 loss in the first qualification match will not count while Ethiopia will lose their three points from last month’s 1-0 victory in Hawassa.
Stars were made to play off the back foot for most of the second half, but they did just but enough to contain the situation and pick the point on the road.
In the first half though, Kenya had good chances to break the deadlock.
Ethiopia, buoyed by a full to capacity stadium started faster off the blocks and danger man Getaneh Kebede had a second minute snap shot off the right turned behind for a corner by keeper Patrick Matasi.
Ethiopian keeper Samson Asefa was also made to work on the other end when he had to scramble and tap the ball out from a Michael Olunga header after he had towered over the defense to nod in a cross from Aboud Omar.
Stars had two brilliant back to back chances which should have been buried in the least.
In the 20th minute, Eric Johannah sent Olunga away on the left but the striker’s effort was saved by Asefa. Five minutes later, Skipper Wanyama sent Johannah through with a brilliant pass, but the midfielder curled the ball wide trying to place it to the far post.
Ovellah Ochieng had the game’s next chance when he was teed up by Johannah, but his shot was well blocked by the keeper.
The home side thundered by the near misses turned back into attack trying to get at least a goal to calm their nerves. On the half hour mark, another neat interchange of passes between the Ethiopians saw Bekele break into the box, but his shot came off the side netting.
Olunga thought he had given Stars the lead two minutes to the break, but his goal was ruled out after a foul was called back having been adjudged to have shoved a defender before winning the ball.
In the second half, Migne made two changes, one of them forced. Ismail Gonzalez came into midfield while he had to pull out Omar who had clutched his groin early in the first half. His place was taken by Erick Ouma.
Knowing that Ouma might have not had enough time to warm up, the Ethiopians used the right channel of attack to try and get a goal in the match, but the backline led by Brian Mandela and Musa Mohammed was always there to cover.
Ethiopia came very close in the 66th minute when Bekele took a shot on the first time volley after a long ball from deep in defense found him inside the box, but the effort came off the outside of the upright.
After 72 minutes, the French tactician decided to spice up things in attack by bringing in speedy winger Paul Were.
But still, the home side kept pressing and in the 82nd minute, Matasi was forced into a good save to keep away a shot from Kebede from distance. The home side thought they had scored in the 83rd minute when Abebo Reshad tapped in at the back post from an Abdulkerim Mohammed cross but the second assistant referee had his flag up for offside.
Migne carefully managed his defensive shape in the remaining minutes to pick the point and inch closer to AFCON.