Tunisia coach fumes after Nations Cup exit

Georges Leekens
Tunisia's coach Georges Leekens (Photo: Reuters)
Reuters
Sunday 1 Feb 2015
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Tunisia coach George Leekens slammed the referee after his side were surprisingly knocked out of the African Nations Cup at the hands of hosts Equatorial Guinea, saying the result was "forced".

Tunisia had control of Saturday's quarter-final heading into the dying minutes following a 70th minute Ahmed Akaichi opener, but the hosts were awarded a penalty in the last minute as Ivan Bolado fell to the ground under pressure from Ali Maaloul.

Javier Balboa converted the resulting penalty, beforedriving home a sumptuous free-kick in extra time for a 2-1 upset win.

Angry scenes erupted after the match and referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn was forcibly escorted from the pitch to protect him from the raging North Africans.

"In all my 45 years in football," Leekens told reporters, "15 as a player and 30 as a coach, I've never seen anything like it, today's result was forced.

"The referee has made a huge error, It's hard to accept certain things in life, like the loss of a child, the loss of family.

"We played a good game, we've worked like mad men, we had adifficult first two weeks and we didn't deserve that."

Leekens said he thought Tunisia had been harshly treated throughout the tournament.

"I hope everyone saw the images, two penalties we didn'treceive, we had one penalty against us, outside the box. It's an injustice. It's a shame for football.

"We are one of the most honest people in the world. Our people, our journalists, Tunisia doesn't deserve this. For 30 years I've coached, I've had lots of experiences, this I can't accept."

While Tunisia head home, Equatorial Guinea, currently ranked118th in the world, advanced to the semi-final where they will face either Ghana or Guinea who meet in Malabo on Sunday.

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