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CAF bosses relocate quarter-finals after pitch complaints

media Franco-Tunisian player Wissam Ben Yedder. AFP

Football chiefs have relocated two quarter-final clashes. Group A winners Tunisia had been scheduled to play the Group B runners-up Equatorial Guinea in Ebebiyin.

The stadium in the eastern border town has a capacity of 8,000 and Equatorial Guinea have enjoyed crowds of more than 30,000 when they have featured in Bata where they will now take on the north Africans on 31 January at 8.30pm following the quarter-final between Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo.

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The last eight clash programmed for the 15,000 seat stadium in Mongomo on 1 February will unfold at the stadium in the capital Malabo at 5.30pm before the last of the four quarter-finals featuring the winners of Group D and the second placed team from Group C.

“The newly installed pitches in Ebebiyin and Mongomo have been very satisfactory, allowing free flowing play during the group stages and this despite having been installed only about one month ago,” a statement issued on Tuesday by CAF’s executive committee said. “However, these two pitches have been adversely affected by a combination of wear and tear from the games played on each of them.”

Driving rain on Monday night during the final Group B match between Zambia and Cape Verde reduced the field in Ebebiyin into a swamp. The ball became stuck in the turf forcing players to adopt the tactic of kick and rush.

However, before the switch was announced, the Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff had been critical of the surface in Mongomo. He claimed it had prevented his side from unleashing their fast passing game during their 3-1 victory over South Africa on 19 January and during the 1-0 defeat to Ghana on 23 January.

His delight was evident before leaving for Malabo, where Algeria take on Senegal in their final Group C match.

“We’ve had difficulty coping with the pitch in Mongomo,” said the 59-year-old. “The pitch in Malabo will allow a more technical passing game. We just really weren’t sure what would happen to the ball on the pitch in Mongomo.”

“The executive committee feels that the eight teams qualified for the quarter-finals stages onwards should be given the opportunity to play on grounds that provide the highest standards to ensure the quality of play remains at the highest possible level,” a CAF spokesperson added.

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