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AFCON 2021: Ethiopia chase miraculous qualification

Wubetu Abate, coach of Ethiopia

Ethiopia will chase a miraculous qualification to the last 16 of the Total Energies Africa Cup of Nations when they face Burkina Faso in their final Group A match at the Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam on Monday.

Kick-off is at 6pm CAT.

Ethiopia come into the clash at the bottom of the group standing after suffering successive defeats to Cape Verde (0-1) and Cameroon (1-4) in the opening week of the tournament.

Despite the back-to-back losses, the Walia Antelopes still have a hope of qualifying for the next round: a win in this clash could yet see them finish second on the log (depending on the result of the other Group A game between Cape Verde and Cameroon) or they may have a shot at being one of the top four third-place finishers. Either way, they must win – and do so handsomely, given their minus four goal difference thus far.

“We did everything to put in a good match and a good performance against Cameroon,” said Ethiopia coach Wubetu Abate. “We scored a goal early in the game but couldn’t keep the score in our favour. We are learning in the big competitions. Experience has made the difference between us and the Cameroon team. Each match has its characteristics. The matches are different but we try to show our abilities and play good football.”

Burkina Faso, meanwhile, have their fate very much in their own hands: a win will either see them finish in the top two, and therefore secure automatic qualification to the next round, or be a third-place finisher with six points to their name, which would almost certainly be enough for progression.

The Stallions have recorded a 1-0 loss to Cameroon and 1-0 win over Cape Verde (courtesy of a goal from Hassan Bande), and will be looking to close out the group stage with an emphatic performance against the East Africans.

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“[Our goal] of course [[is] to go as far as possible, we have a match that is approaching, which is very important [against Ethiopia], we will try to win the match to ensure qualification,” said Bande.

In head-to-head stats, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia have met in three matches across all competitions since their first clash back in 2000. The Stallions have claimed two wins compared to one for the Walia Ibex.

The teams last met in the group stage of the 2013 Afcon in South Africa, with Burkina Faso winning 4-0 thanks to goals from Alain Traore (two), Djakaridja Kone and Jonathan Pitroipa.

The other Group A match in this round sees Cape Verde face tournament hosts Cameroon, which will be played simultaneously at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.

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