Ethiopia coach Wubetu Abate has told his players to target quarter-final qualification when they face Libya at the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship match on Saturday.
The east Africans take on the Mediterranean Knights in their final Group A match at the 19 May stadium in Annaba needing a win and another result going their way to be able to seal their place in the last eight.
The Walia Ibex have just one point from two matches at the tournament and can advance if they win against Libya and Mozambique drop points against hosts Algeria.
“Tomorrow’s match is very important for us. We play against a very good Libya team that has unfortunately lost two matches,” Abate said at the pre-match press conference on Friday.
“We only have one point but we know if we win tomorrow we will have a chance of qualification though it doesn’t all depend on us. We will try to give our best.”
Even though Libya are already eliminated from the competition, Abate reiterated the thoughts of Libyan coach Corentin Martins that the tie would be tricky because the 2014 champions will fight for pride.
“Maybe they will be more comfortable than us because they have less pressure. The fact that they have to play for their pride and that of the nation becomes more difficult,” Abate added.
Poor finishing was the undoing of the Walia Ibex as they are yet to score in two games so far but Abate is confident they will turn the corner against Libya.
“My job as a coach is to build a team from defence to attack. If we are not creating chances it becomes a problem. Interestingly we are creating chances, so we will score”. he told CAFonline.com.
“I don’t want to think about the past. We missed a lot of chances. We played well in some moments, but we can’t win without scoring. We need to score to win, but we are not going to play as a desperate team. We are going to manage the game.
“My job as a coach is to build a team from defence to attack. If we are not creating chances it becomes a problem. Interestingly we are creating chances, so we will score – hopefully against Libya.”
Abate traveled to Algeria for the seventh edition of the CHAN with ten players who made the cut for the 2021 TotalEnergies AFCON tournament same time last year but they’re yet to get the team ticking.
The 44-year-old ex-Ethiopia international says he is satisfied with what he has seen from the players while expressing optimism about the future.
“We are satisfied with the players that we took to the AFCON and CHAN. I am proud of what they have done. We are building for the future of Ethiopian football.”
Saint George midfielder Gatoch Panom Yiech joined Abate in the press conference and said:”This CHAN is very tough, there are draws in many matches. Every team wants to win. In my view this is a good competition.
“As a player I know tomorrow’s game will be difficult, but it also gives us an opportunity to qualify. We know Libya is strong however we play to win and give ourselves a chance for qualification.”
Libya face Ethiopia on Saturday at 19:00 GMT at the 19 May stadium in Annaba.