More protection: Player security worries Avram Grant

Ghana coach Avram Grant said he was concerned about the safety of his players in their 3-0 African Nations Cup semifinal win over Equatorial Guinea which was disrupted by violent scenes.

The host nation upset the odds by making fairytale progress to the semi-finals but the dream turned sour in Malabo on Thursday night.

A 42nd-minute penalty from Jordan Ayew and further goals by Mubarak Wakaso and Andre Ayew ensured routine passage to Sunday’s final against Ivory Coast for Avram Grant’s team.

But the Ghana players were shielded by police from objects thrown from the crowd when they left the field at half-time and the situation in the stands deteriorated during the second half.

During the closing stages of the match, referee Eric Arnaud Otogo-Castane halted play as Ghana fans targeted by missiles from the home fans sought refuge behind one of the goal.

The players remained on the field amid much confusion during a delay that lasted more than half an hour before Otogo-Castane resumed the action, playing out a nominal period of stoppage time to bring the game to a close.

“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 semifinal at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo.

The Black Stars 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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