Striker Julio Tavares took home the winner as the Cape Verde Islands shrugged off their Covid-19 woes by beating 10 men Ethiopia 1-0 on the opening day of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Tavares forced home a diving header after a superb backward pass from Garry Rodrigues at the end of the interval at Yaounde’s Olembe Stadium as Cape Verdians joined hosts Cameroon at the top of the league table. Group A.
Cape Verde was forced to start the match without manager Bubista, in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus, and had just six substitutes on the bench, with nine other players in solitary confinement and two injured.
But Ethiopia made their task easier when defender Yared Bayeh was sent off after 10 minutes.
Tavares stumbled from behind with the Cape Verdean striker in goal and Angolan referee Helder Martins, having initially cautioned Bayeh, changed his mind after reviewing his decision on the sideline VAR screen.
Ethiopia fought bravely despite the disadvantage of being a man down, and seemed to have a psychological boost on the break by managing to keep Cape Verde at bay, before Tavares finished at close range.
A few minutes earlier, Ethiopia had a chance to be first on the scoresheet when Abubeker Nasir intercepted a bad back pass from Irish-born Roberto Lopes, but goalkeeper Marcio Rosa, winning only his third appearance, was immediately out. from his line to stifle the opportunity.
Ethiopia, which was the first team to arrive in Cameroon for the tournament a fortnight ago, is one of the few countries in the final not hampered by Covid-19 infections.
Cameroon will play Ethiopia at Olembe Stadium on Thursday at 4pm, live Sky Sport Premier League.
In the other Group A match, Burkina Faso will face Cape Verde at 7pm, live Sky Sport Premier League.
Sky Sports will broadcast AFCON live
The Africa Cup of Nations tournament will be broadcast live on Sky Sports in January and February.
The tournament, originally scheduled for June and July 2021, will be played in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, 2022, with Sky Sports broadcasting all 52 matches live.