Possible venue change for Equatorial Guinea clash with Tunisia

Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea's Carlos Martin Briones, celebrates after winning their African Cup of Nations Group A soccer match against Gabon in Bata, Equatorial Guinea, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015 (Photo: AP)
Reuters
Tuesday 27 Jan 2015
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Hosts Equatorial Guinea’s quarter-final with Tunisia at the African Nations Cup on Saturday could be moved from the small Estadio de Ebibeyin to a bigger venue, the Confederation of African Football said on Monday

Hosts Equatorial Guinea’s quarter-final with Tunisia at the African Nations Cup on Saturday could be moved from the small Estadio de Ebibeyin to a bigger venue, the Confederation of African Football said on Monday.

The recently-built 5,000-seater stadium is patently too small for the expected turnout as the small country rides a euphoric wave after their surprise victory over their neighbours Gabon in their last group game on Sunday.

"It’s clearly a challenge and we will be consulting all the stakeholders," said CAF spokesman Junior Binyam.

"As things stand the schedule stays the same but there is nothing in the regulations that prevents a change. We are fortunate that we have both our executive committee and organising committee here on the ground and they will look at all the scenarios."

He gave no indication of when a decision could be announced. A heavy rain storm on Monday during the last group match at the venue between Cape Verde and Zambia will have added to the dilemma, leaving the newly laid pitch in a poor condition.

Binyam said this would also be taken into consideration but security was the primary concern. The Nations Cup has already seen spectators breaking through fences at the opening game in Bata on Jan. 17 and filling the 35,000-capacity stadium there to overflowing.

In other venues, segregated areas for VIPS and media have also been overrun at times by supporters, whom poorly trained police have been unable to control. In Ebibeyin, a small town on the eastern border with both Gabon and Cameroon, organisers are using recruits from a nearby police college to provide security with assistance from police from Angola.

A force of 350 has come from Luanda to help Equatorial Guinea, who were only awarded the finals and reinstated in the competition two months ago after previous hosts Morocco pulled out because of fears over the Ebola virus. 

Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia are scheduled to kick off at 1900 GMT on Saturday. That is after the first quarter-final between Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Bata at 1600.

Authorities could now be looking to play the two matches as a double header in Bata, which is the largest venue in the country and where Equatorial Guinea have played their three group games to packed crowds.

Bata also hosts the final of the Nations Cup on Feb. 8.

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