Africa Cup Of Nations
January 22, 2012 by staff
Africa Cup Of Nations, Thousands of fans forced their way into the Bata Stadium complex for yesterday’s opening match of the African Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, prompting police to use tear gas.
Police tried to check fans’ tickets one by one at the main gate to the complex ahead of Equatorial Guinea’s Group A match against Libya, but several times the crush proved too much and the gates were opened to allow scores of supporters through without being checked.
On at least one occasion, tear gas was used on the crowd. The gate opens on to a road leading to the stadium proper and, in theory, fans still needed a ticket to get inside.
As the crush threatened a potential disaster, Israeli security advisers ordered the gates to be opened.
Earlier, it appeared security forces had the situation in hand. Police had set up roadblocks within a few miles in all directions from the stadium, while all vehicles entering the stadium complex had to pass through a giant metal detector. Rifle-toting guards wearing all-over body armour were frisking fans and inside the complex, a police dog patrol was at the ready, along with armoured vehicles with heavy-calibre gun turrets.
Despite the security presence, fans seemed to be enjoying the pre-match atmosphere, blowing vuvuzelas and waving national flags as they streamed towards the 37,500-capacity venue.
And supporters celebrated wildly when Javier Balboa scored in the 86th minute to give the co-hosts a surprise 1-0 win over Libya. The former Real Madrid striker Balboa was sent clear by an incisive pass from substitute Daniel Ekedo and sidefooted a curling shot past goalkeeper Samir Aboud.
Equatorial Guinea were making their debut in the finals and starting the match with 11 players who were born abroad. Libya qualified for the finals despite the on-going conflict in their country.
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