Monday 20 November 2017

Ghana FA compares chaotic crowd scenes at Africa Cup of Nations to 'war zone'

A police helicopter flies over the stadium during an interruption of the 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo, on February 5, 2015. Play was halted eight minutes from time in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana when missiles were thrown on the pitch.
A police helicopter flies over the stadium during an interruption of the 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo, on February 5, 2015. Play was halted eight minutes from time in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana when missiles were thrown on the pitch.
Security officers evacuate a supporter who made his way onto the pitch during the 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo, on February 5, 2015. Play was halted eight minutes from time in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana when missiles were thrown on the pitch.
Ghana's national football team players leave the pitch protected by riot police at the half-time of the 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo, on February 5, 2015.
Policemen evacuate a tribune during the 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo, on February 5, 2015. Play was halted eight minutes from time in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana when missiles were thrown on the pitch.
A police helicopter flies over the statdium during an interruption of the 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo, on February 5, 2015. Play was halted eight minutes from time in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana when missiles were thrown on the pitch.
A Ghana's supporters holds her face at the end of the 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo, on February 5, 2015. Play was halted eight minutes from time in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana when missiles were thrown on the pitch.

Crowd trouble marred Ghana's African Nations Cup semi-final win over hosts Equatorial Guinea in Malabo as Ghana fans were forced to flee the stands after being pelted with bottles.

The Ghana Football Association's Twitter feed described the scene as being "like a war zone" as a police helicopter hovered over the ground while bottles and other objects were being thrown.

The match, which Ghana won 3-0, was suspended for around half an hour as the Black Stars supporters were forced to leave the stands and take refuge on the pitch behind one of the goals after being bombarded with objects from rival fans.

Bottles could be seen scattered across the running track which surrounded the pitch, while there were reports of tear gas being fired into the stands in a bid to control the Equatorial Guinea fans.

Policemen evacuate a tribune during the 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo, on February 5, 2015. Play was halted eight minutes from time in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana when missiles were thrown on the pitch.
Policemen evacuate a tribune during the 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo, on February 5, 2015. Play was halted eight minutes from time in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana when missiles were thrown on the pitch.

A Tweet sent on the Ghana FA's official account during the match said: "Police helicopter hovers above the pitch with the #Ghana fans in real danger. It's now like a war zone. #AFCON2015".

The referee stopped the match and the players were left waiting in the middle of the pitch to find out if it would restart, with the Equatorial Guinea players pleading with their fans to calm down.

Ghana supporters appeared to be escorted away by police through the tunnel, with reports of Equatorial Guinea supporters waiting for them outside the stadium.

The match had eight minutes left to go when the trouble occurred and it looked set to be abandoned, but incredibly was allowed to continue following much deliberation between the match officials, players and coaches and competition officials.

Security officers evacuate a supporter who made his way onto the pitch during the 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo, on February 5, 2015. Play was halted eight minutes from time in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana when missiles were thrown on the pitch. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGOISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images
Security officers evacuate a supporter who made his way onto the pitch during the 2015 African Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Equatorial Guinea and Ghana in Malabo, on February 5, 2015. Play was halted eight minutes from time in the Africa Cup of Nations semi-final between hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana when missiles were thrown on the pitch. AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGOISSOUF SANOGO/AFP/Getty Images

Players cleared bottles off the pitch before the game restarted in the 90th minute. Three minutes of stoppage time were played without incident.

When the match did finish, Ghana coach Avram Grant and counterpart Esteban Becker embraced and there were handshakes between the players.

Equatorial Guinea only stepped in to host the tournament at the 11th hour after Morocco pulled out due to fears regarding the Ebola epidemic.

Having never qualified for a World Cup, Equatorial Guinea's only previous African Nations Cup campaign was in 2012 when they reached the quarter-finals.

They went one better than that by knocking Tunisia out in the last eight in the most dramatic of circumstances, but that achievement was soured by Thursday night's events.

Leicester's Ghanaian player Jeff Schlupp wrote on Twitter: "Absolutely embarrassing! Just let us go to the final and win this tournament in peace! #Ghana #BlackStars."

Ghana FA president Kwesi Nyantakyi later told BBC Sport the trouble was an isolated incident which should not overshadow the tournament.

"I don't think this is a fair commentary of Africa," he said.

"This has been a very successful tournament and this isolated incident of violence will leave a slur on the reputation of African football.

"It is very unfortunate and it doesn't deserve that."

Ghana had taken the lead when Jordan Ayew scored a 42nd minute penalty after Felipe Ovono raced out of his goal and clattered into Kwesi Appiah and then, three minutes later, Wakaso Mubarak finished off a swift counter-attack after Equatorial Guinea had left themselves wide open at the back following a corner.

Andre Ayew tapped home a third in the 75th minute.

Equatorial Guinea face a third-place play-off against DR Congo in the same stadium on Saturday, with Ghana and Ivory Coast meeting in the final in Bata a day later.

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