Ethiopia National Football Team are expected to arrive today with a squad predominantly comprising domestic league players for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Malawi at Bingu National Stadium in Lilongwe on Sunday.
A statement released by Ethiopia Football Federation indicated that Egypt-based Shemeles Bekele, who plays for El Gouna, is the only foreign-based player in th squad.
However, football analyst Felix Ngamanya Sapao cautioned the Flames agianst underrating the Walia Ibex as Ethiopia has one of the strongest leagues in Africa.
He said: “After the Botola League of Morocco, the Egyptian league is the second strongest in Africa. Ethiopia just played Lesotho in a friendly and drew 1 – 1. They have a stronger local league than our Super League, as such, we should not underestimate them.
“They were at Afcon just like Flames this year and showed good promise in a tough group.They are a good team, but Flames should win at home. It will be tight.”
Another analyst, Kevin Moyo also said Ethiopia, where Malawi’s on-and-off player Robin Ngalande played last season for St George, has a well-run league.
He said: “Currently, they have one of the best professionally run leagues on the continent with the coming in of Multi-Choice as sponsors which is attracting a lot of foreign players.
“So, having one foreign-based player does not make them a lesser side.”
However, Flames coach Mario Marinica said his charges are ready for the game.
“The condition of players is very good apart from Mark Fodya who had an injury and we have to excuse him and Peter Banda came with a minor knock. They are showing full commitment to win. But everybody is ready for a good game,” he said.
Malawi face Guinea on June 9 in their second qualifier away while Ethiopia will stay on to play Egypt at Bingu National Stadium after the Confederation of African Football banned their stadium, Bahir Dar for failing to meet minimum requirements.
Malawi’s Charles Petro is based in Moldova, Francis Madinga based is in Georgia, Lawrence Chaziya in Jordan, Frank Gabadinho Mhango, Khuda Muyaba in South Africa while Gerald Phiri Jnr plies his trade in Sudan.