Cameroon fans (Photo: Reuters)
Cameroon security forces used water cannons late on Saturday to disperse rioting soccer fans angered by Cameroon’s draw with Senegal that dimmed the team’s chances of qualifying for the 2012 African Nations Cup.
Cameroon captain Samuel Eto’o missed an 87th-minute penalty that would have closed the gap on group leaders Senegal, sparking off violence around the Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium and leading Eto’o to apologise publicly.
Witnesses said several people were injured in the fracas, and that angry football fans smashed car windscreens and tore T-shirts bearing Eto’o’s name off the backs of people wearing them. Security officials were not available to comment.
Late on Saturday, in a brief interview with state television, the Inter Milan striker asked fans to forgive him.
“When I score goals often, you hoist me to the top, but today I missed the penalty which would have given us victory and I take full responsibility for this underperformance,” he said. “I know that the Cameroonian public wants us to win to make them happy. But I missed the penalty and I ask forgiveness.”
Saturday’s draw raised the possibility that the four-time African champions could fail to qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon after eight successive appearances in the finals.
Cameroon have five points from four qualifying matches, leaving them five points behind group E leaders Senegal.
Rioting also broke out in a suburb of Senegal’s capital Dakar on Saturday after a power outage switched off televisions and radios in mid-game. Police used tear gas to break up crowds of rock-throwing fans.