Hosts Equatorial Guinea Fined for Semifinal Match Violence

Posted February 6th, 2015 at 4:48 pm (UTC-4)
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Equatorial Guinea fans react as a police helicopter hovers above the stand during the African Cup semi-final match against Ghana in Malabo. (REUTERS)

Africa Cup organizers hit hosts Equatorial Guinea with a $100,000 fine Friday for not doing more to control the fan violence that erupted during Ghana’s semifinal trouncing of Equatorial Guinea.

With Ghana leading 2-0 at the half during the match Thursday, home field fans began to get unruly, pelting Ghanian players with bottles and other debris as they left the pitch at halftime.

After Andre Ayew nailed home the Black Stars third goal at the 76th minute, Equatorial Guinea fans began accosting Ghanian fans in the stands, forcing them to take refuge in the section behind one of the goals. The game was delayed for about 30 minutes.

At least 36 people were injured in the fighting, and 14 were hospitalized, one seriously, tournament organizers said. It was the worst violence of the 2015 tournament.

On Friday, the disciplinary committee of the Confederation of African Football announced the $100,000 fine ” for aggressive behavior and being repeat offenders.”

The panel also ordered Equatorial Guinea to play its next match behind closed doors, which would have meant no spectators for the third place tournament match, scheduled for Saturday. But the panel said it would suspend that order “to promote a spirit of fair play and brotherhood.”

Equatorial Guinea had already been once before during the tournament for not controlling unruly fans, during the Jan. 26 match against Gabon.

 

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

Redemption Song for Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana?

Posted February 5th, 2015 at 8:25 pm (UTC-4)
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It was to the dismay of African football fans that Ivory Coast and Ghana were sent packing from Brazil at the earliest of stages last summer.

Only one African team, Algeria, was left standing after the group stages, becoming Africa’s highest internationally ranked team since.

That is very likely to change soon though, if FIFA’s dubious rankings panel has been following the AFCON 2015.

Ghana’s Appiah challenges Equatorial Guinea’s Belima during their 2015 African Cup of Nations semifinal match in Malabo. (REUTERS)

The Wake Up Call

Ivory Coast started the tournament with a continuation of their tamed World Cup display. Gervinho, a player considered to be in resurgence after his move to AS Roma from Arsenal, was sent off after only 58 minutes in the opening game as his frustrated team trailed unlikely Guinea.

Having saved face and earned a point with a late equalizer, Ivory Coast played Mali in their second group match. The result was another uneventful 1-1 draw which put their AFCON title ambitions in doubt. They would have to win against the group’s strongest team in Cameroon to make it to the next round.

Luckily for them, Gradel’s 36th minute goal would be enough to win that game, and after another unconvincing display Ivory Coast were through.

Ghana’s start was no different.

Having led 1-0 against Senegal through a penalty, Ghana would crumble in the second half, conceding two (including an extra time goal) to lose their opening match. Playing tournament favorite Algeria in their second game, they could only muster half chances until talismanic striker Asamoah Guyan produced a moment of individual brilliance to earn them an extra time winner of their own.

It wasn’t their strongest performance by far, but it signified a will to fight it out until the last minute, a factor reminiscent of their 2010 World Cup campaign.

Coincidentally, the Black Stars’ final opponent in the group stages was South Africa, and had it not been for the latter’s ability to self-destruct in the grandest of fashions (Exhibit A: dropping a one goal lead to lose 3-1 to Algeria; Exhibit B: taking another lead against Senegal only to concede in the second half and drop points; Exhibit C: leading against Ghana and then conceding 2 goals in 10 minutes to bow out) the Black Stars would currently be watching the games from the comfort of their couches.

The Awakening

If Les Elephants and the Black Stars had miserable starts to their tournaments, the knockout rounds have been anything but. Both teams have been cruising, dismantling the opposition and scoring freely. Ghana’s trajectory has been aided by easier opponents such as Guinea and host Equatorial Guinea (they beat both 3-0 and 3-0 respectively). Ivory Coast’s form, meanwhile, has coincided with Gervinho’s return, who has scored 2 goals in 2 matches to help his team convincingly beat the tournament favorites Algeria, and the wildcard that was Congo to get to the final.

 

Only they stand in each other’s path now, and come Sunday, both will have to forget their World Cup nightmares to lay their hands on the continental title.

But whatever the outcome, one thing’s for sure: fans of African football will stay wide awake for this dream matchup.

Teff Teff
Raised in Ethiopia, Teff Teff has played the game for as long as he remembers. He is a huge Manchester United supporter who tries to emulate his heroes the best way he can, on FIFA or at the local park. He is a multimedia producer for the Africa Division at VOA, where he spreads the football gospel to anyone who listens.

Ghana Heads to Finals After Downing Equatorial Guinea 3-0

Posted February 5th, 2015 at 6:33 pm (UTC-4)
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Last summer, Ghana’s high hopes for World Cup glory were quashed during a decidedly unimpressive group stage performance, when they were outplayed not only by the eventual winners, Germany, but by the perennial upstarts, the United States.

Now, they are on the verge of replacing that memory with a new one, as a decisive 3-0 win Thursday over Equatorial Guinea sent them into the final match of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.

Ghana’s Harrison Afful challenges Equatorial Guinea’s Ivan Salvador during their semi-final match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations. (REUTERS)

Jordan Ayew, André Ayew and Mubarak Wakaso all scored for the Black Stars.

Unfortunately for the history books, Ghana’s win was tarnished after what appeared to be mainly Equatorial Guinea fans began hurling bottles and other objects at Ghanian fans late in the 2nd half. The fans ended up huddling behind a goal seeking refuge from the missiles thrown at them.

With a helicopter hovered over the stadium in Malabo, riot police ultimately retook control after about a 30 minute interruption of the game, and Ghana went on to victory.

Jordan Ayew opened the scoring for Ghana in the 42nd minute when he converted a penalty awarded for a Equatorial Guinea foul from Felipe Ovono.

Wakaso got the Black Stars’ second after Christian Atsu broke fast and assisted to Wakaso who nailed home a left-footed shot from the center of the box.

André Ayew made it three at the 75th minutes, with left-footed shot from the box center, off an assist from Kwesi Appiah.

It wasn’t immediately clear what sparked the outburst of violence. No injuries were immediately reported, or arrests.

Ghana will face Cote D’Ivoire on Sunday for the final match of the tournament.

 

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

Les Elephants Trample DRC 3-1

Posted February 4th, 2015 at 7:20 pm (UTC-4)
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Ivory Coast's Die Serey celebrates with fans after winning their semi-final soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations against Democratic Republic of Congo in BataBATA, Equatorial Guinea _ Yaya Toure saved the Elephants, as the Manchester City midfielder stepped up his game to defeat the Leopards of the DRC 3-1 to advance to the finals of the Africa Coup of Nations. .

Toure, who had been unimpressive during much of the tournament, scored the first goal 20 minutes in from the penalty area with control, firing the ball past DR Congo goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba.

“I didn’t like the game, we did not do all the things we were supposed to do,” Cote D’Ivoire coach Herve Renard told reporters after the game.

He also praised his opponent, DRC coach Florent Ibenge, saying “he one of the competent African coach you have.”

Ibenge disputed the fact that his squad was tired:

“I didn’t see tired players, they were running with full energy and wanting to move forward,” he said. I think it was lack of maturity and making a number of mistakes and not take  advantage of the opportunities they got.”

Ivory Coast's fans celebrate after winning their semi-final soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations against Democratic Republic of Congo in BataIvory Coast moves to the final Sunday, to take on the winner of the Ghana and Equatorial Guinea match, to be played Thursday.

AFCON Organizers Demote Referee, Fine Tunisia $50,000

Posted February 4th, 2015 at 4:48 pm (UTC-4)
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BATA, Equatorial Guinea _ Tunisians players upset at a disputed penalty during their quarterfinal loss to Equatorial Guinea badly damaged a locker room at a stadium, Africa Cup tournament organizers said, as they fined the Tunisian football federation $50,000.

Referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn is surrounded by security as players of Tunisia confront him after losing their quarter-final soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations against Equatorial Guinea in Bata. (REUTERS)

In a statement issued late Tuesday, the Confederation of African Football also said they had demoted the referee at the center of the furiously disputed match on Saturday, which advanced Equatorial Guinea to the semifinals.

During the match, Mauritian referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn awarded a late penalty to Equatorial Guinea that tied the score against Tunisia. Javier Balboa then sealed victory for the home team in the 102nd minute.

At the final minute, as local fans erupted in celebrations, ugly scenes erupted on the pitch, as Tunisian players accosted tournament officials, and then tried to attack the referee.

The confederation said it was fining Tunisia $50,000 for “insolent, aggressive and unacceptable behavior” of the players and officials during Saturday’s game.

The confederation also said it was suspending Seechurn for six months for “poor performance” and removed from confederation’s “A” list of referees.

The confederation’s referee committee expressed regret for the “the poor performance of the referee during the match, including an unacceptable failure to maintain calm and ensure proper control of the players during the match.”

Seechurn could not be located to comment on the penalty. The Tunisian Football Federation did not make an immediate comment on the announcement.

The end of the quarterfinal match saw the ugliest scenes to date at the 2015 tournament, which for the most part has been conducted without major incident.

Tournament organizers also fined Equatorial Guinea $5,000, for not doing more to prevent fans from running into the pitch, like what happened during Saturday’s match.

 

With Kabila, Song and Dance, DRC Preps For Semifinal Against Cote D’Ivoire

Posted February 3rd, 2015 at 4:47 pm (UTC-4)
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BATA, Equatorial Guinea _ The Democratic Republic of Congo takes on Cote D’Ivoire in the Africa Cup of Nations 2015 semifinals on Wednesday. By all accounts, the Leopards are the underdogs compared with the Les Elephants.

But they’re lacking in spirit, optimism or support, thanks to a visit from DRC President Joseph Kabila and some exuberant fans.

Check it out:

 

Debate Continues Over Disputed Penalty That Paved Way for Equatorial Guinea Win

Posted February 2nd, 2015 at 2:02 pm (UTC-4)
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Where Equatorial Guinea fans are ecstatic, Tunisian fans, players, coaches and others are furious.

The result that sent Equatorial Guinea to the semifinals and Tunisia homeward continued to roil the tournament.

During the Saturday match, a late penalty awarded by Mauritian referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn resulted in Equatorial Guinea tying the score. Javier Balboa then sealed victory for the home team in the 102nd minute.

At the final minute, as local fans erupted in celebrations, ugly scenes erupted on the pitch, as Tunisian players accosted tournament officials, and then tried to attack the referee.

Tunisia’s coach Georges Leekens has called for the suspension of Seechurn, saying in 45 years of football, he has never experience something like this.

It is a “scandal,” he said.

Bata Wadii El Jari, the head of the Tunisian Football Federation, submitted his resignation to the tournament organizing committee in protest of what happened to his team.

Equatorial Guinea’s coach, Esteban Becker, meanwhile, said in an interview with VOA that the decision should be respected.

“We need to respect the decision on the field and not turn law into our own hands. It was a penalty given and sent us to over time. The Tunisians had 30 minutes to win if they played their game,” he said. “Instead they played defense and we played attack which enable us to win.”

Tournament organizers CAF have not issued any statement about the Saturday match.

 

 

Did you watch the match? Was the penalty justified? Was Tunisia robbed of victory? Let us know your thoughts.

Write to us here or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VOASonny.

Cote D’Ivoire Trounces Top-rated Algeria; Ghana Pounds Guinea

Posted February 2nd, 2015 at 11:09 am (UTC-4)
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Before the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations tournament started earlier this month, Wilfried Bony had been newly minted as the best paid African footballer in history, with his signing by Manchester City.

His performance leading Les Elephants to a 3-1 victory over Algeria shows why.

Ivory Coast’s Wilfried Bony fights for the ball with Sofiane Feghouli of Algeria during their quarter-final soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Malabo. (REUTERS)

Bony scored twice Sunday to silence The Desert Foxes– Africa’s top-rated team– and take Cote D’Ivoire into the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Bony’s 26th minute header was answered with a left-footed howler by Algeria’s Soudani in the 51st minute.

Another header by Bony in the 68th minute, on a set piece cross from Yaya Toure put Cote D’Ivoire in the lead. And Gervinho, back after serving a two-game suspension for an opening match red card, sealed the win in extra time.

The Elephants will face the Democratic Republic of Congo in one of the semifinal matches on Wednesday.

The other semifinal match-up will feature hometown favorites Equatorial Guinea playing Ghana, who decisively shutout Guinea with a 3-0 win on Sunday.

Christian Atsu was the hero for the Black Stars, scoring once in the 4th minute and the second in the 61st minute. Atsu’s first was a thing of beauty with a backheeled cross from Andre Ayew that Atsu nailed home from 8 yards out.

A clearly outplayed Guinea didn’t make things easier for themselves when defender Baissama Sankoh botched a clearance in the 44th minute and Kwesi Appiah ran clean though to slot the ball home.

 

Mike Eckel
Mike Eckel's dreams of being drafted by Man United or FC Barcelona peaked when he was captain of his high school football team, but ended during his short-lived college career. He continues to be an avid player (midfield) however and holds out hope that Jozy Altidore will get his act together for 2018. When not running VOA's football blogs, he writes about Russia, international war crimes, Central Asia corruption and oversees VOA's multimedia collaboration efforts.

Atsu! God Bless You!

Posted February 2nd, 2015 at 10:29 am (UTC-4)
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For a tournament that has delivered some stunning long range efforts in the past, AFCON 2015 had been very dry so far.

Low scoring draws had defined the group stages of this tournament, but fortunately for viewers the playoffs are telling a completely different story.

Enter Christian Atsu, the 23-year-old Chelsea player who plies his trade as loanee with Everton FC, who decided that Ghana’s game against Guinea Sunday was the perfect opportunity to score the goal of the tournament.

Cutting from the right side of Ghana’s offense Atsu unleashed an unstoppable curler into the top left corner of Guinea’s goal.

Ka-POW!

 

With a daring and confident attitude like that, Atsu’s future is guaranteed to be bright.

Teff Teff
Raised in Ethiopia, Teff Teff has played the game for as long as he remembers. He is a huge Manchester United supporter who tries to emulate his heroes the best way he can, on FIFA or at the local park. He is a multimedia producer for the Africa Division at VOA, where he spreads the football gospel to anyone who listens.

Equatorial Guinea Advances With 2-1 Win over Tunisia

Posted February 1st, 2015 at 2:51 pm (UTC-4)
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Tunisia's Syam Ben Youssef challenges Equatorial Guinea's Wahbi Khazri iduring their quarter-final soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Bata

Tunisia’s Syam Ben Youssef challenges Equatorial Guinea’s Wahbi Khazri iduring their quarter-final soccer match of the 2015 African Cup of Nations in Bata. (REUTERS)

BATA, Equatorial Guinea _ A controversial penalty at the 90th minute gave Equatorial Guinea the tying goal in the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals, and then an opening for an eventual 2-1 victory over Tunisia Saturday.

In front of delirious hometown fans, the match was without question the roughest of the 2015 tournament to date, with Tunisia seeing two of its players carried out of the field because of injuries and one from Equatorial Guinea. Tunisia ended up with four yellow cards, the most to date.

From the beginning to the end, the Nzalanga Lightning forced the Tunisians to play a defensive game. But Tunisia’s Ahmed Akaichi struck first in the 70th minute.

Victory looked to be the Carthage Eagles’ until the 91st minute when referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn awarded a penalty to Ali Maaloul, after being fouled by Ivan Bolado. Javier Balboa netted the goal for Equatorial Guinea.

Balboa then scored the winner for the Lightning in the 102nd minute with a 25-yard kick.

The final whistle then saw angry skirmishes as both sets of officials and players and security getting involved. Some Equatorial Guinea fans ran onto the pitch to celebrate, and some fans threw bottles at at the Tunisia players.

The BBC reported that some fans may have shown lasers in Tunisia goalkeeper Mathlouthi’s eyes during Balboa’s penalty kick.

Equatorial Guinea will face Ghana or Guinea in the first semifinal on Thursday.

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Sonny Side of Sports is an energetic and action-packed look at both world and African sports, broadcast on radio, TV and the Internet. Since the show’s creation in 1999, host Sonny Young has delighted listeners and viewers with a lively presentation that combines humor, props, sound effects and correspondent reports from Africa and all over the globe.

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