2021 AFCON: CAF discusses state of pitch in Douala

Published on: 19 January 2022

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) is still in discussions regarding the poor state of the pitch in Douala and whether Africa Cup of Nations matches may need to be moved from the arena.

Cameroon's largest city has hosted just four games so far at the Japoma Stadium, with another six to come.

These include a semi-final, two quarter-finals, and a last 16 clash.

Caf's organising committee met at 11:00 GMT on Tuesday, with an official telling BBC Sport Africa that talks were still ongoing nearly seven hours later.

Each of the six stadiums being used for the tournament has hosted two matches back-to-back on the same day.

The state of the pitch in Douala was thrown into focus by Sierra Leone's last-gasp equaliser against Ivory Coast in their Group E meeting on Sunday.

Ivorian goalkeeper Badri Ali Sangare was caught out as he seemingly lost his footing as he attempted to smother the ball to prevent it going for a corner only to fumble it into the path of gleeful goalscorer Alhaji Kamara.

Even then the Denmark-based forward had to recover from his own slip on the surface in order to put the ball into the open goal.

Later that evening, defending champions Algeria were beaten 1-0 by Equatorial Guinea in a scrappy encounter.

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi, whose team have played both their games on the pitch so far, criticised the playing surface from the first day it hosted games.

"I am not saying that it's catastrophic, but it's not a level that would allow total fluidity and what we expect for big tournaments like the Nations Cup," Belmadi told BBC Sport Africa ahead of their match against Equatorial Guinea.

Algeria are due to play their group decider against Ivory Coast in Douala on Thursday (16:00 GMT), with the Desert Foxes needing victory to have a chance to progress to the last 16.

The Japoma Stadium was opened in late 2020 and first used when Cameroon hosted the African Nations Championship, a tournament for African footballers based in their own domestic championships, in January 2021.

Source: BBC