Ghana’s Sports Minister, Mahama Ayariga says the Ghanaian contingent in Equatorial Guinea is safe despite Thursday’s violence by angry football fans.
He said the Equatoguineans are actually nice people and have regretted the actions of some football fans during the semi-final game against Ghana.
Mr. Ayariga is confident the host country may support Ghana’s Black Stars in the final against the Elephants of Ivory Coast which will be played in Bata so “we will lift the cup and come home.”.
He said the team will be leaving Malabo where Thursday’s contentious semi-final was played, for Bata to prepare for Sunday’s final.
Equatoguinean fans who could not endure watching their team decimated by the Black Stars in the epic semi-final game started throwing missiles and water bottles onto the pitch.
Feeling unsafe, Ghanaian supporters started moving towards the pitch for safety.
A tense situation arose forcing match officials to halt the game, which was in the 82nd minute, for nearly half an hour.
After several interventions by officials of the Confederation of African Football (Caf), the game resumed and lasted for just three minutes.
The Ghanaian players were escorted out of the stadium by heavily armed security officials as missiles flew everywhere.
Whilst there was a semblance of calm in the stadium with helicopters bringing in military men to help maintain order, the scenes outside the stadium were more troubling.
Joy News tournament correspondent Delali Atiase reported that when the Ghanaian fans and journalists stepped out of the stadium there were signs of chaos everywhere.
Roadblocks, burning lorry tyres, broken ceramics, and general lawlessness told them of a disappointed and frustrated nation that believed that by opting to save the tournament from imminent postponement after Morocco announced it would not host the tournament, it had a right to play in the finals and possibly win the trophy.
Some Ghanaian fans were hurt by bottles thrown at them with one popular Ghanaian fan, Apirugu Chaka-Pama nursing a swollen eye.
Delali said the supporters together with the playing body were evacuated to the residence of Ghana’s Ambassador there. They took refuge there for extra hours before being moved to their respective hotels.
Scared by the violent protest which left in its wake broken bottles, debris, burning of tyres in areas around the Malabo stadium, the Ghanaian fans had to go to bed on an empty stomach, he stated.
“It was so bad and was so chaotic,” Delali recalled, narrating that two Senegalese journalists who were mistaken for Ghanaians were nearly attacked by stick-wielding Equatoguinean fans in their hotel.
Later, there were reports that two Ghanaians have been killed but this was discounted by the Sports Minister, Mahama Ayariga.
“I cannot confirm any deaths here,” he told Joy News’s Beatrice Adu on Friday morning.
He assured that both the team and fans in Equatorial Guinea are “very safe”.
But Ghanaians who travelled to that country to watch the tournament have to be transported back home due to the development, Mr. Ayariga said.
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