Angry football fans break the players’ bench as violence broke-out following Ghana’s defeat over Nigeria. Reuters
Nigeria fans stormed the pitch as the fallout from their surprise failure to reach the World Cup finals started immediately after the final whistle of Tuesday’s 1-1 home playoff draw with Ghana in Abuja that sealed the home team’s fate.
Fans at the stadium reacted to the result, which saw Nigeria miss out on a trip to Qatar on the away goals rule, by throwing objects at both the small group of visiting fans in the Moshood Abiola National Stadium and the Ghana players.
Local security was slow to react to the violence, which included a pitch invasion on the final whistle, and the Ghana players were left to battle their own way towards the tunnel in scenes that will no doubt draw the ire of the Confederation of African Football and FIFA.
When police finally did get involved they started to beat the rioters with their batons, while it took teargas on the pitch to disperse the unruly fans, who also smashed the dugouts.
Nigeria, who had appeared in six of the previous seven World Cups, had been expected by most of the 60,000 crowd in Abuja to book a place again after the first leg of their playoff tie finished 0-0 in Ghana on Friday.
But a goalkeeper error from Francis Uzoho allowed Thomas Partey to open the scoring for Ghana early in the return game.
William Troost-Ekong equalised from the penalty-spot, but the home side limped out of contention with a tepid second half display in which they rarely threatened the visitors’ goal.