Ethiopia and Burkina Faso renew acquaintances for the first time since January 2022 when they lock horns in Group A of the World Cup qualifiers on Tuesday.
Having failed to win any of their last three meetings, Gebremedhin Haile’s men will journey to the Ben M’Hamed El Abdi Stadium looking to get one over the Stallions and end their schedule for 2023 on a high.
Ethiopia kicked off their quest for a first-ever World Cup appearance last Wednesday when they played out a goalless draw against Sierra Leone.
In a cagey affair at the Ben M’Hamed El Abdi Stadium, both sides were guilty of a lack of cutting edge in front of goal and would have been satisfied to come away with a share of the spoils.
This was Ethiopia’s first outing since September 8, when they suffered a 1-0 loss against Egypt in their final game of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at the 30 June Stadium.
The defeat against the Pharaohs saw Haile’s men finish rock-bottom in Group D of the qualifiers with four points from six matches, bringing their quest for a second consecutive AFCON appearance to an end.
Ethiopia, who are currently 143rd in the latest FIFA World Rankings, head into Tuesday’s game without a win in their last eight competitive matches, losing five and picking up three draws since a 2-0 victory over Egypt on June 9.
Burkina Faso, on the other hand, failed to kick off their World Cup qualifying campaign with a win as they could only salvage a 1-1 draw against Guinea-Bissau last Friday.
Manuel Balde opened the scoring with a 20th-minute effort to put the Djurtus in front at the Stade de Marrakech but Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore found the back of the net shortly after the hour mark to force a share of the spoils.
This followed a 2-1 friendly victory over Mauritania on October 17 which saw their five-game winless run come to an end courtesy of goals from Mohamed Konate and Stephane Aziz Ki.
While Hubert Velud’s men are without a win in four straight competitive matches, including each of their last three in the AFCON qualifiers, they booked their spot in Ivory Coast as they finished top of Group B with 11 points from six games.
However, Burkina Faso will be backing themselves to find their feet on Tuesday as they take on an opposing side against whom they are unbeaten in their last three encounters, claiming two wins and one draw since a 2-1 loss in April 2000.
Ethiopia World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:
Ethiopia form (all competitions):
Burkina Faso World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:
Burkina Faso form (all competitions):
Following an injury-free game against Sierra Leone, we expect Haile to name a similar starting XI on Tuesday, with Henok Adugna, Yared Baye, Million Solomon, and Ramadan Yesuf forming the back four once again.
Skipper Gatoch Panom made his 58th international appearance last time out and the 28th-year-old should retain his role in the centre of the park, alongside Surafel Dagnachew and Chernet Gugsa.
Up top, Ethiopian Medhin man Wogene Gezahegn should spearhead the Ethiopia attack, teaming up with 24-year-old Chernet Gugsa and Saint George forward Abel Yalew.
Luton Town’s Issa Kabore was forced off injury just before half time against Guinea-Bissau last time out and the 22-year-old defender is a major doubt for Tuesday’s game.
Should he fail to shake off the injury, Steeve Yago should come into the XI, forming the back four with Adamo Nagalo, Issoufou Dayo and Abdoul Guiebre.
With his leveller against Guinea-Bissau, Traore now has 16 international goals to his name and the 28-year-old, who is currently fifth in the nation’s all-time scoring chart will look to deliver the goods once again.
Ethiopia possible starting lineup:
Habtamu; Adugna, Baye, Solomon, Yesuf; Dagnachew, Panom, Markneh; Yalew, Gezahegn, Gugsa
Burkina Faso possible starting lineup:
Koffi; Yago, Nagalo, Dayo, Guiebre; Sangare, Ouedraogo, Toure; Traore, Konate, Ouattara