Ghana centre-back Jonathan Mensah said he and his teammates were scared as crowd trouble at the African Nations Cup marred the end of their 3-0 semifinal victory over hosts Equatorial Guinea on Thursday.
Goals from Jordan Ayew, Wakaso Mubarak and Andre Ayew put the Black Stars in control before the Ghana fans were forced out of the stand and onto the the side of the pitch in the 82nd minute.
They had been pelted with missiles from the agitated Equatoguinean crowd — who had been throwing bottles for the majority of the match.
Play was stopped for about 40 minutes as the fans endured more pelting behind one of the goals before eventually police intervened and cleared the way to hide them in the corner of the stadium.
Despite the game being stopped in the 82nd minute, it resumed at the 90-minute mark and only three minutes of stoppage time were played.
Talking after the game, the Ghanaian players were defiant that their path to the final — where they will face Ivory Coast on Sunday — would not be tainted by such incidents.
Mensah, who has played in every game so far on their run to the final, said, “It was dangerous for us and the supporters as well, but thank God the situation was controlled.
“We were scared. Seeing our fans getting this kind of treatment wasn’t good for us. We were just happy it was controlled.
“We wanted to continue to the game, so that’s what we did. [The referee] said we had to wait until the supporters were in the stands before we continued.
“I don’t think [the incident took away from our performance].”
Celtic midfielder Mubarak, who scored the second goal in the victory, shared his teammate’s sentiment, saying, “[The incident] will never take it away. It can never take our attention away.
“We are ready [for the final]. We knew that we were going through before the game.”
Equatorial Guinea manager Esteban Becker remained gracious in his response to the loss after his team’s fairy-tale run ended on a sour note in the semifinals.
“Ghana were better and congratulations to them,” he said. “I’m very happy with my players and how they played in this tournament but I regret the incidents.”
Middlesbrough forward and national team captain Emilio Nsue also showed regret for what happened in the stadium.
Equatorial Guinea are scheduled to face DR Congo on the same pitch in Malabo on Saturday.
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