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Oct 13, 2012

Riot hits Nations Cup qualifier

The deciding African Nations Cup qualifier between Senegal and Ivory Coast in Dakar had to be abandoned amid chaotic scenes with home fans rioting as their team faced missing January's finals in South Africa.

Play had already been temporarily halted once in the 65th minute when a fan ran onto the pitch and almost reached Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba before being wrestled to the ground and escorted off the field.

Leading 4-2 from the first leg last month, the Ivorians were cruising into the finals when Drogba scored his second goal of the game from the penalty spot in the 71st minute to put the visitors 2-0 up at the Stade Leopold Senghor.

The Senegalese fans reportedly then began starting fires in the stands and throwing firecrackers onto the pitch, forcing the players and coaching staff of both sides to gather in the centre circle. The Senegal supporters were protesting against the state of their nation side and not trying to cause trouble on the pitch itself.

The Ivorian fans had to flee onto the pitch, joining their national team, before being led to safety by the police. The match was abandoned 40 minutes later.

There are currently no reports of any injuries, with Manchester City issuing a statement on their official website that both Kolo and Yaya Toure were unharmed in the disturbances. Other Premier League players involved were Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Mohamed Diame, Gervinho and Cheick Tiote.

It is expected the CAF will order the result to stand and Ivory Coast will qualify.

Senegal failed to qualify for the 2010 finals and have not won a match at the African Nations Cup since reaching the quarter-finals in 2006. They failed to get out of the group stage in 2008 and 2012. The Lions of Teranga also failed to qualify for the last two World Cup finals having shocked France en route to the quarter-finals in 2002 but are well placed in qualifying for 2014.

In Saturday's other qualifiers, champions Zambia will get the chance to defend their crown after beating Uganda 9-8 on penalties. Geoffrey Massa's 25th minute goal gave Uganda the victory on the night, leaving the tie level at 1-1 on aggregate.

Christopher Katongo missed the first penalty of the shootout for Zambia, and after Andrew Mwesigwa failed to score with the Ugandans' second there were 15 successful spot-kicks before Patrick Ochan missed the crucial 20th kick.

Like Senegal, Nigeria were under huge pressure on home soil but got off to the perfect start against Liberia thanks to Efe Ambrose's first minute goal. The Super Eagles went on to win 6-1, and 8-3 on aggregate, with further strikes from Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses (2), John Obi Mikel and Ikechukwu Uche. Patrick Wleh scored Liberia's consolation.

Morocco turned around a two-goal first leg deficit against Mozambique in Marrakech, winning 4-0. Abdelaziz Barrada and Houssine Kharja levelled a tie which then seemed to be headed for extra-time until goals from Youssef El-Arabi (85) and Nordin Amrabat (90+4) booked a place in the finals.

Ghana completed the job against Malawi in Lilongwe, Afriyie Acquah's fourth minute goal enough to win the match and seal a 3-0 aggregate success. Mali cruised through in Botswana, winning 4-1 in Lobatse and 7-1 on aggregate.

Tunisia needed the away goals rule to oust Sierra Leone, drawing 0-0 at home with last month's 2-2 draw in Freetown proving the difference.

The remaining eight qualifiers take place on Sunday. Cameroon's bid to overturn a 2-0 first leg defeat against Cape Verde in Yaounde is the stand-out tie.

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