CAF penalises Nigeria
LAGOS, Jan 29 (Reuters/AFP/Internet): The Confederation of African Football (CAF) fined Nigeria 2,000 dollars and warned that the teams' future African Nations Cup matches could be played behind closed doors, after fans unhappy with a draw against Congo rioted, reports AFP.
In a statement issued on Saturday, CAF said it had fined the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) "an amount of 2000 dollars for the unruly crowd behaviour after the Super Eagles' match against Congo Brazzaville" here on Friday.
"CAF issues a strict warning to the public not to repeat such kind of behaviour. In the contrary, the matches concerning Nigeria will be played behind closed doors," the statement said.
Nigerian fans threw bottles onto the pitch and besieged their star-studded team's dressing room after the tournament favourites, who had won their opener against Tunisia 4-2, drew 0-0 with minnows Congo on Friday afternoon. The team were locked inside the changing-room for their own safety.
Police had to use teargas to disperse the mob who laid siege to the dressing room where the players had taken refuge. Police dispersed the irate local fans with tear gas after they smashed the window of the team bus. The fans had hurled plastic bottles onto the pitch towards the end of the match.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian squad have hit back urging the supporters to be "more civilised".
"You don't win all matches, our fans should understand that and be more cultured and civilised in how they react to our performance," team coach Jo Bonfrere said on Saturday.
"We didn't go out there for a 0-0 draw. We always want to win for our country...our fans. That we drew shouldn't make the fans be unruly," said Tijjani Babangida, a second-half substitute in Friday's match.
Team captain Sunday Oliseh said: "I'm disappointed with the attitude of the fans. Why jeer us when we did not lose?"
Soccer is treated with almost religious devotion by many of the West African country's 108 million people.
The players said they were worried the fans may not give them support in their final Group D match against Morocco on Thursday.
"I think the fans may support Morocco when we play them," said defender Furo Iyenemi.
Substitute striker Benedict Akwuegbu, who missed an easy scoring chance against Congo, added: "I won't be surprised if the fans don't show some understanding when we play Morocco."
The Nigerians now have four points from two games. Morocco, with three points, could go top of the group if they beat Tunisia on Saturday.
"Our match against Morocco will be tough and we'll try to exhibit enough mental toughness to win," said Bonfrere. "But the fans must learn to be supportive whatever situation we're in."
The Nations Cup is being held in Lagos and Kano in Nigeria and Accra and Kumasi in Ghana.