The Walias of Ethiopia delivered a clutch performance in their 4-0 thrashing of Madagascar to move into first place in Group K for now. St. George SC forwards Amanuel Gebremichael and Getaneh Kebede opened up the scoring along with Abubeker Nassir to help Ethiopia to a 3-0 halftime lead before star Shimelis Bekele added one more in the second half.
Madagascar showed signs of being a tough visitor in the early exchanges but their defense became unraveled by excellent playmaking from the Walias. In the 19th minute Gebremichael received a pass from club teammate Kebede just inside the penalty area and did well to cut inside and find room to fire a hard shot past Barea goalkeeper Melvin Adrien. Kebede then provided a rocket of a free-kick that took a slight deflection as it zipped by Adrien.
Ethiopia were on a roll after the second strike and continued to show no mercy with their finishing. Ethiopia Coffee forward and Ethiopian Premier League leading scorer Nassir put the match beyond doubt when he executed a smooth combination play with midfielder Surafel Dagnachew before sliding his effort past Adrien a few minutes before halftime. Shimelis Bekele’s 86th minute easy finish from a rebound closed out the scoring for the hosts in a decisive victory.
Ethiopia now leads Ivory Coast and Madagascar each by two points but faces a difficult road test in Abidjan to close their campaign out. Madagascar meanwhile know that a win at home against bottom side Niger will achieve qualification but now have no margin for error. Highlights of the match are below.