Soccer News of Wednesday, 28 January 2015
The qualification of hosts Equatorial Guinea for the quarter-finals has given organisers of the African Nations Cup a headache that, in truth, they should have foreseen.
Esteban Becker’s side will take on Tunisia in the Last 8 on Saturday with the match scheduled for the 5,000-seater Estadio de Ebibeyin.
Given that the hosts have packed out the 35,000-seater venue in Bata for all their games so far, and the wave of euphoria that sweeping the nation following their progression to the knockout rounds, the venue is not just inadequate but potentially a massive safety hazard.
Security has not been up to scratch at the tournament so far, with Equatorial Guinea’s opening game in Bata seeing fans breaking through fences to get inside.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) are quite obviously aware of the ‘challenge’, but for now the venue remains the same.
“It’s clearly a challenge and we will be consulting all the stakeholders,” 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.” What may also swing the decision is the huge downpour at the venue on Monday night in the Group B clash between Zambia and Cape Verde that did severe damage to the pitch.
With the first quarterfinal on Saturday between Congo-Brazzaville and DR Congo, common sense would suggest that both matches be played at the country’s largest venue as a double-header.
It is a situation that should have been foreseen though, unless CAF had little faith in Equatorial Guinea being able to make it out of the group phase.
As hosts they were always going to be placed in Group A and so why Ebibeyin was given one of the two quarter-finals to come out of the pool shows little foresight.