Ivory Coast, Ethiopia battle for Group K top spot

football29 March 2021 10:01| © Backpage TXT
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Ivory Coast © Gallo Images

Ivory Coast will lock horns with Ethiopia in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualification Group K match at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan on Tuesday.

Kick-off is at 3pm CAT (SA, GMT+2).

The Elephants secured their spot in next year's tournament which will be hosted by Cameroon after thrashing Niger 3-0 away in their most recent Group K encounter which was played on 26 March.

Ivory Coast are sitting at the top of the group standings - a point above second-placed Ethiopia and three points above third-placed Madagascar with one game left for each team.

Therefore, the Elephants have qualified for the finals due to the fact they have a superior head-to-head record over Madagascar, who will face an already eliminated Niger in Toamasina on Tuesday.

Serge Aurier, the Ivory Coast captain, says it is difficult to imagine the Afcon finals without the Elephants and he is looking forward to facing Ethiopia in their final Group K game.

“Bravo to all! Staff, players, and to all those who support us in good times as in bad times, impossible to imagine an Afcon without the Ivory Coast," Aurier said.

"Some will say that it is normal, I say that it is just necessary to congratulate those who fight to maintain the colours of our country among the great of this continent and the whole world!

"This is what is normal! We have one last match left to complete this chapter on Tuesday to celebrate all together.”

Meanwhile, Ethiopia boosted their hopes of qualifying for the finals by thumping a hapless Madagascar side 4-0 at home in their previous Group K match which was played on 24 March.

The win took the Walia Ibex to second place on the group standings - two points above third-placed Madagascar and Ethiopia will book their spot in the finals if they overcome Ivory Coast.

Wubetu Abate, the Ethiopia head coach, added two defenders Wendemeneh Dereje and Mesay Pawelos to his squad as he looks to mastermind a win over the Elephants.

"Ethiopian National Team head coach Wubetu Abate calls for additional two players to strengthen the squad," an Ethiopian Football Federation statement read.

"Wendemeneh Dereje of Ethiopian Coffee Sports club and Sebeta City Football Club's Mesay Pawelos are the two centre backs who are called by the head coach."

The previous match between Ivory Coast and Ethiopia was on 19 November 2019.

Ethiopia stunned Ivory Coast as they claimed a 2-1 win in the 2022 Afcon qualifier Group K game at the Bahir Dar Stadium in the Ethiopian city of Bahir Dar.