Thursday, April 18, 2024
SportEthiopia out for encore as Walias face Pharaohs again

Ethiopia out for encore as Walias face Pharaohs again

Ethiopia’s national team, the Walias, will face off once more against Egypt’s Pharaohs after both sides were drawn into the same group for the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and 2026 World Cup qualifiers.

Organizers slotted the Pharaohs and Walias into Group A – alongside Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Djibouti – setting the stage for Africa’s quest to secure places at the expanded 48-team World Cup in North America.

In an eagerly awaited group draw in Ivory Coast, fierce rivals Egypt and Ethiopia were placed into the same group for their qualifiers. Fans will remember the Walias’ dramatic 2-0 victory over the Pharaohs during last season’s AFCON qualifiers, raising hopes of a repeat when the sides meet again next September.

But history shows it’s rare for such bitter rivals to be paired together twice in the same qualifying campaign, and repeat the same feat.

The group stage kicks off in November with 54 African hopefuls vying for just 9.5 spots at the tournament.

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The draw served up some mouth-watering clashes, with teams divided into nine pools of six for the four-year continental odyssey. The nine group winners advance directly to the finals while the four best runners-up progress to the playoffs where a single winner will represent Africa in an intercontinental tie.

It will be the first expansion of the World Cup since 1998, ballooning to 480 games across 12 groups of four teams. The top two from each group and eight best third place sides will make the knockout stage of 32.


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