/ 16 October 2012

Senegal kicked out of Africa Cup of Nations

Cote d'Ivoire players were escorted out of the stadium after violence during their match against Senegal.
Cote d'Ivoire players were escorted out of the stadium after violence during their match against Senegal.

The decision was taken at a Confederation of African Football (CAF) disciplinary meeting in Cairo on Tuesday after violence flared in Dakar on Saturday, with Côte d'Ivoire players and fans pelted with stones, bottles and chairs, fires lit in the stands and firecrackers thrown.

"As a result, CAF decided to officially confirm the result of the match as 2-0 in favour of Côte d'Ivoire … and to consider Senegal the loser of the match and eliminated from the competition," the confederation said in a statement on its website.

Further sanctions may be taken against the East African side, it added.

The violence erupted after Côte d'Ivoire took a 2-0 lead for a 6-2 aggregate advantage in a qualifier for the finals in South Africa. The match was suspended for 40 minutes while police tried to restore order but the referee abandoned the game.

Senegal's football chiefs said on Sunday that they would accept any punishment and apologised to Côte d'Ivoire and their fans.

The CAF said the decision was in accordance with article 16, paragraph 20 of its rules, which state: "If the referee is forced to stop the match before the end of the regular time because of invasion of the field or aggression against the visiting team, the host team shall be considered loser and shall be eliminated from the competition, without prejudice to the sanctions existing in the regulations."

Team to beat
Côte d'Ivoire will once again be the team to beat when the competition finals begin early next year but it is not a tag the "Elephants" are comfortable wearing, after failing to justify being favourites in the last four editions of the tournament.

Didier Drogba, who scored against Senegal on Saturday, and his co-stars finished runners-up to 2006 hosts Egypt, came fourth in Ghana two years later, made a 2010 quarterfinals exit and were runners-up again this year.

Both final defeats came in penalty shoot-outs.

South Africa could mark the last appearance in a major international competition for former Chelsea star Drogba, now plying his trade in Shanghai, as well as ageing stars Kolo Toure and Didier Zokora.

Côte d'Ivoire are among the top seeds for the tournament, which starts in Johannesburg on January 19, with South Africa, Zambia and Ghana. – AFP