Without star forward Mohamed Salah, record African champions Egypt were stunned by Ethiopia at the Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe, losing 2-0 in their second Group D match of the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Salah missed the game due to injury and his absence was felt as first half goals from Dawa Hotessa and skipper Shemeles Bekele earned Ethiopia a well deserved victory.
Hotessa broke the deadlock after 21 minutes with a sliding finish that beat keeper Mohamed Abou Gabal. The forward stretched in to direct the ball home after some fine work from Abubaker Nasser who had done the donkey work on the right to lay in a cross.
Just before the goal, Ethiopia had tested Gabal with Gatuoch Panom’s shot from distance which the keeper calmly collected.
Nasser came inches close to making it 2-0 for Ethiopia in the 24th minute when he ran on to a through ball from the middle, but his shot past the keeper hit the upright and rolled away.
He thought he had scored in the 34th minute when he tapped home a cross from the right, but the referee’s flag was up for offside.
The Walia Ibex however finished the half with the second goal five minutes to the break through Bekele’s thumping shot from inside the box. The skipper had started the move himself, spreading to Amanuel Gebremichael who played him through on goal.
After the goal Egypt made a surprising decision to throw in three changes, Magdy Afsha, Amr el Solia and Ayman Ashraf all coming off for Ibrahim Adel, Kamal Omar and Mohanad Lasheen.
Despite the changes, Ethiopia still forced them to play deep in the second half and their ambition to get a way back into the match wasn’t as successful.
Malawi 0-1 Guinea
Elsewhere at the General Lansana Conte Stadium in Conakry, Naby Keita scored late into added time as hosts Guinea beat Malawi 1-0 to storm to their first victory in the qualifiers.
The game seemed to be heading for a draw until Keita struck the winner for the home side, earning a well deserved win after putting in the pressure and looking more hungry.
With the victory, Guinea move to third in the standings below Malawi, with all teams in the group sitting on three points.
Both sides had some chances in the opening half. Keita had a go at goal in the 27th minute when he stretched out his feet to connect to a cross from the right but it went wide.
In the 34th minute, midfielder Amadou Diawara had a chance for Guinea when he rose at the backpost to connect to a corner, but he headed just wide.
At the tail end of the first half, Malawi had a chance when Khuda Muyaba broke away on the right and into the box, but the effort was blocked by the hawk eyed Guinean keeper.
It remained a close encounter in the second half. The best chance fell on Guinea, with Serhou Guirassy missing a golden opportunity as he slashed a shot just wide off a cross from the left two minutes after the restart.
Substitute Ilaix Moriba also had a chance with an 85th minute freekick from range, but he struck it inches over the bar.
The late drive bore fruit, with Keita sending the stadium into frenzy with his late winner.