Ghana’s World Cup play-off against Nigeria’s Super Eagles was marred by unsightly scenes Tuesday night, leaving in its trail wanton destruction of facilities at the 60,000-capacity MoshoodAbiola Stadium – and the death of a CAF official, Dr Joseph Kabungo.
The first leg of what is now known as the ‘Jollof derby’ had ended in a gut-wrenching barren game at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi on Tuesday (March 25), giving the Nigerians the advantage heading into the return – four days later.
However, the Super Eagles failed to fly.
An 11th Thomas Partey-strike was enough to secure Ghana’s place at the 2022 Qatar World Cup, based on the away-goals tie-breaker.
And even though Nigeria’s captain William Troost-Ekong’s penalty cancelled the deficit as early as the 22nd minute, it was still not enough to stop the Stars from recording a famous result on enemy territory.
Moments after the final signal from the Tunisian referee Selma Selik ushered Ghana into the historic victory, the stadium erupted into chaos as livid Nigerian fans stormed the pitch – destroying property on the field and throwing objects at visiting Ghana fans and players.
The home fans were captured vandalising the dugouts and knocking over goals and other objects on the sidelines.
After nearly 10 minutes of having their way, the outnumbered Nigerian security was compelled to draft in reinforcement to calm down the situation – employing the use of batons and tear gas.
Meanwhile, it has now been confirmed that DrKabungo, who was CAF’s Doping Officer for the match, was allegedly caught up in the riot and was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Zambia FA president Andrew Kamanga said in a statement: “Today we mourn the passing of our CAF/FIFA medical officer Dr Joseph Kabungo who was on duty as a Doping officer in Tuesday’s match involving Nigeria and Ghana, and we extend our sincere condolences to DrKabungo’s family and the football family at large.
“We take note that it is too early to dwell into the nitty-gritty of the cause of his death but will wait for the full report from CAF and FIFA on what exactly transpired,” the statement added.
Nigeria qualified for the last three World Cups. The Stars will, however, be making a return for the third time to football’s biggest stage in Qatar – since their 2006 debut, after missing out in the 2018 edition in Russia.
BY JOHN VIGAH