Back from Botswana with an emphatic 2-1 away victory, Ethiopia currently tops its group for the Brazil 2014 World Cup final qualification playoffs and is ready for the crunch against the visiting South African National team today for the decisive match which will assure passage. “We must absolutely win today in front of our home fans,” stated Coach Sewnet Bishaw, who is on the verge of making football history. The team is well placed to go through to the playoffs which will bring together ten group winners. Among the qualification campaign’s top scorers with four goals to his credit, including Saturday’s stunning winner over Botswana from outside the box, Salhadin Said and his striking partner Getaneh Kebede, who also scored the opener, are expected to perform well on home turf. Many are getting ready to indulge in wild celebrations in anticipation of an Ethiopian victory. Though Bafana-Bafana have made a resurgence under Coach Gordon Igsund and thrashed Central Africa 3-0 at home to give them some confidence, they will be facing a team in the Walyia-Antelopes, who are in their best ever form and haven’t been defeated so far in the campaign, in their lion’s den in Addis Ababa, a city famous for its high altitude at about 2400 meters above sea level. The South Africans’ 1-1 home draw against Ethiopia at the start of the qualification campaign had left them stunned and struggling from the beginning and it is believed that the game today is for the Walyia’s to lose. With three wins and a single draw, Ethiopia leads the table with 10 points and a goal difference of four, while the visitors have recorded two wins and two draws, sitting second with eight points and a goal difference of five. A strong strike force spearheaded by Salhadin and Getaneh, a well-balanced midfield comprising of defensive midfielders Asrat Megersa and Addis Hentsa, together with creative playmakers Shimeles Bekele and Minyahel Teshome, tacked to a strong defensive line rarely challenged or breached by opposing strikers, Ethiopia has the fire power to to make an example of the visitors and take a giant step forward in steering Ethiopia into its first ever World Cup final in Brazil. The referees assigned for the anxiously awaited game are all Egyptians. Farouk Mahmoud Mohamed takes center stage, while Degaish Ayman and Abo El Sadat Beyder are the linesmen and Bahou Mahmoud is the fourth official.
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