The Blue Sharks of Cape Verde needed a first-half stoppage time goal to beat Ethiopia 1-0 in their TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021 opener at the Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé.
A pinpoint Julio Tavares close range header secured the victory against the Walias who were reduced to 10 men following Yared Bayeh’s early dismissal.
Teklemariam Shanko Balcha produced several saves to keep Ethiopia in the match following their numerical disadvantage.
The Walias’ game plan suffered an setback in the famous Cameroonian capital when centre back Yared Bayeh brought down Tavares after seven minutes.
Referee Helder Martins produced a red card following an on field video assistant referee review.
The Blue Sharks took control of proceedings as they tried to find an opening in the Ethiopian defense. Exciting winger Mendes Rodrigues caused all sorts of problems to the Walias with his speed and trickery down the right channel.
His well timed cross into the area was deflected towards goal by Ethiopian defender Dada forcing goalkeeper Teklemariam Shanko Balcha to a smart save.
The Walias struggled to create meaningful chances against the well drilled Cape Verde defense. Captain Getaneh Gibeto tried to pull an acrobatic volley inside the opponent’s area but the cross was heavy.
Teklemariam Shanko Balcha pulled another instinctive save to deny Rocha Santos. Santos latched on to neat pass just out area before firing straight at Balcha.
The West Africans broke the deadlock on the stroke of half time through Julio Tavares. The towering striker dived to head in Rodrigues’ brilliant flick past the helpless keeper.
The Blue Sharks dominated the second half and close through Rodrigues, Santos and Tavares. Santos saw his low effort miss the target whiles Tavares scuffed his effort following a brilliant through ball by Santos.
The Blue Sharks join hosts Cameroon at the top of the Group A following their action packed 2-1 victory earlier in the day.
What they said
Kenny Rocha (Man of the Match):
“I am happy to win this title of best player of the match. It is a personal distinction but also for the team and which I dedicate to all my family and to all Cape Verdeans”.
Humberto Bettencourt (Assistant coach of Cape Verde):
“I would like to dedicate this victory to all the players and the technical staff who participated in our qualification for this TotalEnergies AFCON and who could not come. I also dedicate it to all the Cape Verdeans who support us. We are happy to our collective performance and also the distinction of Rocha as Man of The Match. Three important points for us for the race to the qualification in the next round. We knew the quality of the Ethiopian team and that helped us during the We took advantage of the spaces in the middle of the field and played our best football to get the points for the victory. “
Wubetu Abate (Ethiopia Coach):
“We lacked experience against a good Cape Verdean team. A defeat is true but we will learn lessons for our next matches. We played almost the entire game in a numerical inferiority and that did not help us. helped especially physically”.