Africa Nations Cup quarter-finals moved over pitch concerns

Equatorial Guinea
Senegal's soccer players and team officials walk on the pitch ahead of their final Group C Match on Tuesday against Algeria at Estadio De Malabo in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, Monday, Jan. 26, 2015 (Photo: AP)
AFP
Tuesday 27 Jan 2015
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This weekend's African Nations Cup quarter-finals have been moved away from the small Equatorial Guinea towns of Ebebiyin and Mongomo due to concerns over the pitches

Saturday's quarter-final between the host nation and Tunisia, scheduled for the 5,000-capacity Estadio de Ebebiyín, has been shifted to Bata, the Confederation of African Football said on Tuesday.

It will be played as the second match in a double-header also involving the derby between Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sunday's quarter-final in Mongomo between the winners of Group C and runners-up in Group D, will now be played as the opening match of two at the Estadio de Malabo.

The first games will kick off at 1600 GMT with the second moved 30 minutes later than originally scheduled at 1930 GMT.

CAF cited concerns that the pitches in Ebebiyin and Mongomo would struggle to hold up beyond the pool phase, especially after torrential rain in the country on Monday.

"The newly-installed pitches in Ebebiyin and Mongomo have been very satisfactory, allowing free flowing play during the group stages, and this despite having been installed only about one month ago," a CAF statement read.

"However, these two pitches have been adversely affected by a combination of wear and tear from the six games played or to be played in each of them and the unstable weather conditions seen lately.

"Consequently, the CAF Executive Committee feels that the eight teams qualified for the quarter-final stages onwards should be given the opportunity to play on grounds that provide the highest standards, specifically those of Bata and Malabo, to ensure the quality of play remains at the highest possible level."

CAF had said it would discuss a change of venue when it became clear that hosts Equatorial Guinea would play their quarter-final in Ebebiyin.

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

Spectators broke through fences at the opening Nations Cup game in Bata on Jan. 17.

In other venues, segregated areas for VIPS and media have been overrun by supporters with poorly trained police unable to control them.

Equatorial Guinea stepped in to host the tournament after Morocco was ruled out in November because it called for the tournament to be postponed over fears about the spread of the deadly Ebola virus.

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