Ghana coach Grant worried about player security during chaotic semi

Ghana players
Referee Eric Arnaud Otogo-Castane (3rd R) of Gabon stands next to Ghana players after Equatorial Guinea fans threw objects during their African Nations Cup semi-final soccer match in Malabo February 5, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)
Friday 6 Feb 2015
Ghana coach Avram Grant said he was concerned about the safety of his players in their 3-0 African Nations Cup semi-final win over Equatorial Guinea which was disrupted by violent scenes

The game resumed after a break of over 30 minutes on Thursday as sections of the crowd were forced from the stands with missiles raining down from the angry home fans.

“It’s the first time I’ve played in this tournament,” Grant said. “I didn’t know what was happening. I saw something on the pitch, some incident or violence.

“I can’t say I wasn’t concerned, I care about the security of my players, it’s very important to me.”

Grant watched on impassively as Ghana supporters sought refuge on the pitch with their team leading by three goals in a tempestuous semi-final at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo.

Teargas was fired as riot police tried to control the home supporters while Ghana fans, corralled into an enclosure to the side of the 15,000 capacity stadium, spilt onto the field and amassed behind the goal as they fled a deluge of water bottles and cans.

A helicopter flew over the stands in a bid to force the spectators out with at least one fan falling dangerously over a barrier.

Equatorial Guinea coach Esteban Becker and forward Emilio Nsue were quick to condemn the actions of the supporters.

“I am sad about the way the fans acted out there,” Becker said, while Nsue offered an apology for the violent scenes.

“Regarding the public and the way they acted,” he began, “I’ve never experienced that. I’d like to say sorry, it was something we’ve never experienced before.”

The home fans started throwing objects onto the field after their side went behind to a controversial 42nd minute penalty.

Ghana players had to be protected by riot police using plastic shields as they left the field at the end of the first half, while the Confederation of African Football used the public address system to threaten to call off the game if the crowd did not stop pelting Ghana's players.

The second half was halted eight minutes from time when Ghana supporters sought sanctuary on the field after coming under attack from locals.

The players remained on the field with the referee as officials struggled to bring order. The delay went on for 34 minutes before play was resumed.

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