If there is a coach who knows how problematic Ethiopia can be for Bafana Bafana, it is almost certainly Gordon Igesund, the last man in charge when South Africa went to play a Fifa World Cup qualifier in the East African country.
That game in Addis Ababa in June 2013 ended Bafana’s hopes of qualifying for the 2014 Fifa World Cup finals in Brazil, with Bernard Parker scoring at both ends in a 2-1 defeat, including arguably the most spectacular own goal ever netted by a Bafana player.
“Ethiopia are a team that can be very dangerous,” warned Igesund this week, as Hugo Broos’ Bafana prepare to take on Ethiopia in Bahir Dar on Saturday, a key game in their own bid to qualify for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.
“We played them under very difficult circumstances (in Addis), we conceded an own goal, conditions were very bad.
“They (Bafana) must be very careful.”
Former Bidvest Wits striker Getaneh Kebede scored Ethiopia’s other goal in 2013, and at 29 he remains a part of the Ethiopia set up.
Broos has said he is targeting six points from these back-to-back games against Ethiopia, with the return match at FNB Stadium on Tuesday. This would put Bafana in a strong position to make it to the final qualifying round as Group G winners, as they would be sitting on an impressive ten points from their opening four group matches. Igesund, however, believes a point would be a good result in Bahir Dar.
“We have got ourselves in a good position by beating Ghana, we can go there and get a point, try and win, but otherwise get a point and beat them at home. I wouldn’t underestimate them and think it is ‘only Ethiopia’. They are a difficult opponent … with a hostile crowd.”
“When we went there, we had to attack, attack, attack (Bafana needed a win to maintain realistic hopes of qualifying for Brazil 2014). Personally I would go (now) and try and get a point. Hugo Broos is not a fraud, he has been around a long time and I am sure they are planning well.”