Match - Sat 8 September, 19:00,
Sudan meet neighbours Ethiopia
Hitham Mustafa Karar of Sudan
Sudan will host the first leg in Omdurman, hoping to build on their excellent quarterfinal showing at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations which should make them favourites against an Ethiopian side who have not been to the finals for 30 years.
But Ethiopia showed in their World Cup qualifier draw away in South African in June that they do travel well, and having also recently beaten Egypt’s vanquishers Central African Republic, are one of the form sides of the past few months.
Key for Sudan will be getting a good result at home, as the Ethiopians will always be favourites in the return fixture next month.
Historically, Sudan have the edge with 15 wins to nine in the previous 34 meetings between the teams, while their recent visits to the continental finals in 2008 and 2012 give them that Big Match Temperament as well.
As ever, the majority of the Sudanese squad has been pulled from the Al-Hilal and Al-Merreikh clubs, but it is a settled selection of players who have now been together for the past two or three years.
Ethiopia rely on good organisation, physicality and the goal prowess of rising star Saladin Said, a player whose recent record for the national side has been outstanding.
Sudan’s greater experience should see them home, but if Ethiopia can grab a draw or narrow defeat in the first leg, it will be very much game-on for the second.