Zambia’s title defence started with a stutter after they wasted a 1-0 lead and missed a penalty against Ethiopia, who had their keeper Jemal Tassew sent off after just 37 minutes as they celebrated their first match in the tournament for 50 years.
Collins Mbesuma scored the opener for the 2012 winners after he raced onto a through ball, beating the defence and fired his half-volley into the bottom corner, but it was all-square when Ethiopia’s captain Adane Girma found the net at the near post.
Bizarrely, Tassew saw red while being taken off on a stretcher, after haring out to the ball and flattening Zambia’s Chisamba Lungu a full 40 yards from his goal.
Zambia: Mweene, Nkausa, Himoonda, Sunzu, Musonda (Jacob Mulenga), Sinkala, Lungu, Chansa (Mukuka Mulenga), Kalaba, Mbesuma, Christopher Katongo (Mayuka).
Goal: Mbesuma 45
Ethiopia: Tassew, Bune, Elias, Hailu, Tesfaye, Bekele (Tadele), Megersa, Adane Girma, Teshome, Kebede (Hintsa), Said.
Goal: Girma 65
Red Card: Tassew 37
Tassew’s sending off caused an 11-minute delay as the Group C match descended into near chaos with angry Ethiopian fans throwing bottles and vuvuzelas on to the pitch.
They were already upset after their key player Saladin Seid missed a penalty in the 25th minute having already been deprived of an earlier goal when the ball bounced over an open goal on the hard surface.
Ethiopia made a bright start to their first game in the finals for 31 years and midfielder Minyahile Teshone should have put them ahead after four minutes but somehow hooked a great chance over the crossbar.
In the 17th minute Zambia keeper Kennedy Mweene was caught out and the ball fell to Seid who found himself with an open goal but his hooked shot towards the gaping net bizarrely bounced over the bar.
What a following! Ethiopian came in their numbers to the Mbombela Stadium
Seid had another chance to score eight minutes later when Gabon referee Otogo Castane awarded Ethipoia a penalty after Lungu fouled Seid, but Mweene easily saved his poor kick.
The game then took an unedifying turn after 32 minutes when Tassew raced out of his goal and poleaxed Chisamba Lungu with a reckless tackle which evoked memories of the infamous foul West German goalkeeper Harald Schumacher performed on France’s Patrick Battiston in the 1982 World Cup semi-final.
After an 11-minute stoppage allowing treatment to the goalkeeper, the referee waited until Tassew was on the stretcher before showing him a red card – provoking the Ethiopian fans to throw missiles on the pitch and an official to run on the field and remonstrate with the referee.
Just to add to the mayhem a jet fighter buzzed the stadium before order was finally restored.
Apart from Tassew’s rash attack, and some panicky moments in defence, Ethiopia played some neat football against the champions who paid for not taking their chances.
Important: Ethiopia’s Adane Girma celebrates his equalising goal
- Zambia 1-1 Ethiopia (guardian.co.uk)
- Zambia 1 Ethiopia 1: Africa Cup of Nations match report (dailymail.co.uk)
- 10-man Ethiopia claim a fabulous 1-1 draw with AFCON champs Zambia (101greatgoals.com)
- Zambia frustrated by 10-man Ethiopia (iol.co.za)
- Ten-man Ethiopia deny Zambia (skysports.com)