That was a really enjoyable half, both sides looking for goals. Join me in 10 minutes to see how it shakes out.
45+1 min Hotessa finds Dagnachew just outside the box and he swipes a shot from distance that Onana can only parry! The ball loops up towards Nasir, but Tolo intecedes before it comes down.
45 min There’ll be one added minute.
44 min Dagnachew goes short to Nasir, who’s immediately mugged for his lunch money.
44 min Yohanes turns nicely in midfield and lofts a decent ball down the line for Mohammed, whose cross is blocked behind for Ethiopia’s first corner.
42 min Ethiopia have been better these last few minutes.
40 min Now Ethiopia counter, Gebremichael leading the charge and for a omoment it’s three-on-one! But he holds onto the ball for too long and Ngadeu crowds him out. That is a significant oversight.
39 min Cameroon are coming! First, Ekambi tosses a ball into the box for Aboubakar only for Tamane to stretch it behind before he can apply the finish, the when the corner comes in, Castelletto’s near-post run allows him to guide a header punkt against the angle!
38 min Excellent from Cameroon, Choupo-Moting spreading to the excellent Fai, who steps inside and feeds a delicate little inswinging cross for Aboubakar at the back post. But Tamane is wise to the ruse, nipping in to clear. Excellent ball, even better defending.
35 min It’s all Cameroon now, pushing on looking to go in front. Ethiopa aren’t hanging on, but they’re not much of an offensive factor.
33 min Choupo-Moting flicks on well, out to Ngamaleu, and pegs it towards the box. But he can’t get to the resultant cross, which yields a corner but comes to nothing.
32 min Aboubakar finds Ekambi, who crosses low to the back stick; Ngamaleu taps in and thinks he’s scored, but he was extremely offside.
31 min Our first mention of Roger Milla which, Salako advises us, was in 1994. Twice.
29 min Anguissa sends an uppish poke into the box and Choupo-Moting collects, but he can only drag a shot wide of the near post.
28 min Ekambi flicks past Dagnachew, who brings him down and narrowly avoids a booking ; again, the free-kick is wasted.
26 min Both sides are playing with a high line and looking to get it forward quickly. It’s intense, absorbing stuff.
24 min Aaaarrrrgggghhh! Ethiopia are having at this, Gebremichael skating into the box down the right after a fine pass from Johannes, skinning Tolo and drilling a low skidder that Onana can only palm to Nasir … who can’t rearrange his feet to finish from five yards!
22 min This us a really good game and Ethiopia are coming back into it, Gebremichael cross from the right and finding Nasir … who sweeps across his body, sending a shot skidding past his ankle and just wide.
21 min …which Anguissa curls tamely over the bar.
20 min Choupo-Moting is down and holding his shoulder, never a good sign. But after accepting treatment he seems good to carry on and Cameroon have a free-kick just outside the box, left-hand side…
18 min It’s been a while since Ethiopia attacked, but here’s Dagnachew poking forward to Gebremichael and for a second a shooting lane opens up. So he swerves outside Catstelletto and swivels into a low shot that hits Tamene and bounces to safety.
17 min Again, Cameroon get it out to Fai , Hongla picking him out, and again, he caresses a lovely cross into the middle, but this time Ethiopia get it away.
15 min Dagnachew loses control of the ball and Ngamaleu nicks it away from him, so he scissors in an accepts the inevitable yellow card.
14 min Ethiopia are playing a very high line, a risky strategy against two quick strikers. But after losing to Cape Verde, they’ve obviously decided to go after it, and that makes sense: four points might well see them go out.
12 min It’s all Cameroon now, Ekambi finding Aboubakar down the left of the box. He adroitly turns off for the soon to arrive Anguissa, but Debebe steps in to clear.
11 min This match is gleefully skipping along the edge.
10 min Hamid flies in on Hongla and is, I think, booked.
GOAL! Cameroon 1-1 Ethiopia (Ekambi 8)
This is a terrific goal, Choupo-Moting and Aboubakar combining outside the box, the former holding up for the latter who takes a lovely first touch that takes the ball past his standing leg and allows him to unfurl a screeching curler that Shanko flies left to tip away. But Fai, out wide, collects and swishes a perfect cross onto Ekambi’s brow, and he absolutely panels a header into the far side-netting. What a start!
6 min Cameroon are rattled, Choupo-Moting emoting to the ref and then putting a hand in Yusef’s phizog. He’s booked.
GOAL! Cameroon 0-1 Ethiopia (Hotessa 5)
NOW THEN! Nasir breaks through the middle and spreads right to Gebremichael before pegging it towards the box. And the resultant low cross is a goodun, picking out Hotessa who, totally unattended, sweeps home the opener! Cameroon will have to do it the hard way again!
4 min Tolo combines with Ngamaleu down then left but Castelletto nips in and Cameroon counter…
3 min This has been a nicely frantic start, and although John Salako reckons both sides are playing a back three, it looks to me like Ethiopia have gone with a four.
2 min Hongla flies in late on Nasir, but the free-kick, from wide on the Ethiopia left, comes to nothing.
1 min Caf told me that Choupo-Moting was playing midfield, but he looks closest to Aboubakar to begin with.
1 min Off we go!
I love footballers singing. The ground’s pretty empty, but the noise is anything but.
Here come the teams!
I wish Sky were starting their coverage earlier, with some studio time, just as I wish CAF were going around schools handing out free tickets and laying on free transport. But we’re in the ground now, so let’s be having you.
All has not been well in Ethiopia, but the country’s football team are a symbol of rare unity. Here’s the song they recorded to that effect:
Andre Onana (what’s his name?) recently spoke to Sid Lowe of the Guardian, most particularly about the accidentally-failed drug test that almost cost him his career.
Neither Beats nor airpods in sight.
I was lucky enough to watch the first round of Afcon matches in Africa – Ghana to be precise, from where I returned this morning. You can well imagine the local joy at the Black Stars’ performance against Morocco – I’d love to know why a manager whose side that struggles for goals would leave out Felix Afena-Gyan – and especially given the absence of Mohammed Kudus.
But anyway, we digress. Allow me to share one of the highlights of my holiday, formerly the most shazammed song in the world but one that would have passed me by had I stayed in England. It’s a long time since a tune knocked my spots off as this one did, and one of my favourite memories was when I was picking up food, it came on, and the restaurant went off.
Ethiopia, meanwhile, stay in 4-3-3, but bring in Debebe for the suspended Belay at centre-back and Hotessa in for Kebede in attack.
Cameroon make three changes to the team that beat Burkina, Castelleto replacing Onguene, Hongla in for Kunde and Choupo-Moting taking the place of Gwet. By the looks of things, they’re also moving from 4-1-4-1 to 3-5-2.
Afternoon all and welcome to the start of what seems to be known as matchday two!
Cameroon’s first game, the 2-1 win over Burkina Faso which opened the tournament, was an uplifting romp and the sole first-round fixture to yield more than a single goal. Which isn’t to say there’s not been plenty to enjoy – verily there has – but as we settle into things, another belter will be eagerly received.
For that to happen, Ethiopia will have to go some. Their first encounter, a 1-0 defeat to covid-stricken Cape Verde, could scarcely have gone worse, nor so they have the players to rebound from so significant a setback.
Consequently, the intrigue of this match will be the extent to which the hosts can continue marking their territory. They’re not the most talented squad or even that close to it, but if Vincent Aboubakar – who was extremely poor in the last Afcon – has hit a streak, momentum can take them deep.