Report: Africa Cup of Nations 2015

Violence erupts at Equatorial Guinea-Ghana CAN semi-final

Violence scarred last night’s semi-final at the Africa Cup of Nations between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana. The game was halted for 38 minutes while riot police charged three stands to clear them of home supporters who had been throwing plastic bottles at the Ghana team bench.

Ghana's John Boye protected by police as Equatorial Guinea fans riot at the CAN semi-final
Ghana's John Boye protected by police as Equatorial Guinea fans riot at the CAN semi-final Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Several Ghana supporters were treated for cuts and minor injuries after rival fans hurled rocks, glass and urine filled plastic bottles at their enclosure.

The Ghana fans were eventually shepherded out of the stadium just before the end of the match which their side won 3-0.

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Pleas from Equatorial Guinea skipper Emilio Nsue as well as the country’s minister for sports failed to stop the missiles. A helicopter hovered perilously close to one set of supporters sending dust, paper and plastic instruments into the air.

Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi described the scenes as confused, bordering on chaotic.

“It looks like the number of policemen in the stadium wasn’t adequate to handle the number of people in the crowd. I also got the impression that they weren’t equipped well enough to contain the situation.”

Nyantakyi, who is a member of the CAF executive committee, added: “We will review the situation. This is not at all acceptable and we may ask CAF to take action.”

He may be forced to make a formal complaint by the wrath of hundreds of Ghana supporters who were ordered to depart before the end of the game. They were forced to wait outside the stadium with police in close presence for buses to take them away.

“We stopped watching the game. We were watching the stands,” said one 27-year-old student from Accra. “They were throwing rocks, stones, mirrors, bottles filled with urine. Everything. I’m glad it’s over.”

The ugly scenes are likely to bring further sanctions for Equatorial Guinea. Their FA was fined just over 4,000 euros on 3 February for poor security at the Bata stadium where they played their quarter-final against Tunisia.

Tunisia were told to pay 33,000 euros because of their poor behaviour in the game. At the end of the 2-1 defeat, the Mauritian referee Seechurn Rajindraparsad had to be escorted off the pitch to protect him for Tunisia players still seething for his decision to award Equatorial Guinea a penalty in the dying seconds of stoppage time.

Rajindraparsad has since been suspended by the African confederation for six months due to his erratic officiating.

Another penalty was at the core of last night’s clashes.

Equatorial Guinea goalkeeper Felipe Ovono was adjudged by the Gabonese referee to have felled Kwesi Appiah in the area. Jordan Ayew converted the spot kick. Silence descended on the stadium as Ghana’s players celebrated the breakthrough.

While the opener enflamed the fans, the concession of a second goal just before half-time infuriated them. It had nothing to do with the officiating. Wakasu Mubarak finished off a rapid counter-attack following a botched Equatorial Guinean corner.

When Ghana went 3-0 up in the 75th minute, the home fans turned on visiting supporters who fled through an open gate and onto the running track behind the goal.

Esteban Becker, head coach of Equatorial Guinea, described the scenes as sad, admitting that they would overshadow his team’s achievement in ascending to the semi-final.

“We were on the pitch and I wasn’t really sure what had happened," said his Ghana counterpart, Avram Grant. "I can’t say I wasn’t concerned but I was more worried about the safety of the players.”

Ghana are into a record ninth final in the tournament’s 58-year history. They’ve won four of them and will face a Côte d’Ivoire side hoping to claim the crown for a second time. Their only victory came in 1992 when they beat Ghana on penalties.

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