PRETORIA: Zambia made a low-key start to their bid to retain the African Nations Cup when they were held 1-1 draw by Ethiopia. Monday’s other action saw Nigeria, seeking their third title and their first since 1994, also held 1-1 by outsiders Burkina Faso.

Ethiopia made a memorable return to the tournament following a 31-year absence by holding champions Zambia to the delight of coach Sewnet Bishaw.

His side prevented Zambia from collecting all three points despite having goalkeeper Jemal Tassew sent off in the 35th minute after he lunged into Chisamba Lungu. Lungu walked away from the incident but Tassew, who was shown the red card as he lay on a stretcher, had to be carried off after being treated for 11 minutes.

Tassew’s assault earned him comparisons with West German Toni Schumacher’s infamous assault on Patrick Battiston of France in the 1982 World Cup semi-final.

During the lengthy stoppage for treatment, Ethiopian fans threw missiles including bottles, vuvuzelas and other objects on to the field in protest at Tassew’s red card.

Ethiopia striker Saladin Seid missed a golden opportunity to put Ethiopia ahead when Kennedy Mweene saved his weak 25th minute penalty. Zambia’s Collins Mbesuma then broke the deadlock just on halftime. The Ethiopians were rewarded when skipper Adane Girma equalised in the 65th minute.

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