Ethiopia’s Walia Ibex arrived in Algeria’s capital less than 48 hours before the kick-off of the African Nations Championship (CHAN).
Led by the Ethiopian Football Federation President Isayas Jira and head coach Wubetu Abate, the national team landed at the Houari-Boumediene International Airport in Algiers on Wednesday night.
Accompanied by an Algerian cultural music group, the Organizing Committee welcomed the team at the Airport. The Walia Ibex will stay at the Bay Diab hotel.
The Walia Ibex have been preparing for the tournament in Morocco where they played two friendly matches with the Atlas Lions.
Ethiopia, who are participating in their second African Nations Championship, lost both matches to the home-based Atlas Lions, coached by Issame Charaï.
Morocco needed a second-half strike to edge Wubetu’s Ethiopia in the first match played in Rabat on Saturday.
The Walia Ibex lost 1-2 when the two teams met again on Monday as Morocco maintain their good record in the pre-tournament friendlies.
Despite the results, the team were able to have memorable final days which involved a visit to a stadium named after Ydnekachew Tessema – an Ethiopian figure in Africa’s football and former President of the Confederation of African Football (1972-1987).
A return after six years
The Walia Ibex return to the CHAN for the first time since 2016 after failing to qualify for the last two editions. Their previous two participation ended in disappointment, bowing out in the group stages winless.
Wubetu’s team hope to change that, building on their experience at the 2021 AFCON last year.
The friendly matches in Morocco, the first since the Sept, will help the team acclimatize to weather conditions and prepare the team involving young players better for the tournament, said the Coach late last week.
Placed in Group A, Ethiopia will kick off their campaign at Nelson Mandela Stadium against Mozambique on January 13 before playing the host Algeria five days later in the same venue.
The Walias will play their final group match against Libya in the 19 May Stadium in Annaba city on January 21, 2023.
The tournament, which was first held in 2009 in Cote d’Ivoire, is held every two years and this year’s event will start from 13 January to 3 February.
The opening game between hosts Algeria and Libya on January 13 will kick off at 1900hrs GMT at the 40,000-seat Nelson Mandela Stadium.
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