CAF moves African Cup of Nations quarterfinals to Bata, Malabo
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — The African Cup of Nations quarterfinal involving host Equatorial Guinea has been moved from the small town of Ebebiyin to the country's biggest city, Bata.
The African Football Confederation also decided the quarterfinal in Mongomo would be moved to Malabo, the capital city.
"These two pitches have been adversely affected by a combination of wear and tear from the six games played or to be played in each of them, and the unstable weather conditions seen lately," CAF said in a statement on Tuesday.
Equatorial Guinea, which took over as host at short notice in November, surprisingly finished second in Group A and was to face Tunisia in Ebebiyin on Saturday at 8 p.m. (1900 GMT). The stadium in the city on the border with Cameroon and Gabon holds only about 8,000 fans, raising concern over safety and security issues if the national team played there.
CAF, however, did not cite those concerns in its decision, which it said it took after consultation with the local organizing committee and the teams involved.
Instead of Ebebiyin, the match will be in Bata at 8:30 p.m., shortly after the quarterfinal between Republic of Congo and Congo at the same stadium.
Another quarterfinal was to be played on Sunday in Mongomo, but that has been moved to Malabo. The match will still start at 5 p.m., but the final game of the round, also in Malabo, has been pushed back by 30 minutes to 8:30 p.m.
The two matches in Malabo will feature the top two teams in Groups C and D.
The stadiums in Ebebiyin and Mongomo were hastily readied for the tournament which was supposed to be in Morocco, but that country lost the right as host after a dispute with CAF over the fear of the spread of Ebola.
Although the fields in the two smaller venues were only recently laid, they held up remarkably well, including in Ebebiyin on Monday during an intense rainstorm.
Bata and Malabo, which have larger stadiums, were used when Equatorial Guinea co-hosted the 2012 tournament with Gabon.