WIGAN Athletic striker Arouna Kone escaped unhurt as the Ivory Coast’s African Nations Cup qualifier in Senegal was marred by crowd trouble.
The clash in Dakar had to be abandoned after 72 minutes – with the Ivory Coast winning 2-0 on the night, 6-2 on aggregate – after the home supporters began to vent their anger at their imminent elimination from the competition.
Play was initially halted midway through the second period when a fan managed to get on to the pitch and almost reached Didier Drogba, who had earlier given the Ivory Coast the lead. The fan was wrestled to the ground and escorted away, but a hotly-disputed second goal from Drogba sparked further ugly scenes in the stands, resulting in the referee taking both teams off at the Stade Leopold Senghor.
“Unfortunately the match ended in very sombre circumstances,” read a statement from the Senegalese Football Federation. “The referee was forced to stop in the match in the 72nd minute with the score at 2-0 because of serious outbreaks in the stands by unhappy Senegalese supporters. The police took the public out after many confrontations.”
The disturbances in the stands that followed Drogba’s second goal included small fires being set alight and objects being thrown as players and staff from both teams grouped together in the centre circle.
Kone, who was on the bench for the Ivory Coast, wasn’t the only Premier League player caught up in the drama, with ex-Latics star Momo Diame in the Senegal side alongside Newcastle pair Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse.
Kone’s Ivorian team-mates included Arsenal striker Gervinho, Manchester City brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure, and Newcastle’s Cheick Tiote.