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Julius Aghahowa
equalises for Nigeria
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World Service Africa's Martin Davies
"They hadn't made it clear that the golden goal rule was not going to be applied"
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banner Thursday, 10 February, 2000, 13:56 GMT
Nigeria fine halved for pitch invasion

A pitch invasion delayed play for 10 minutes

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has halved Nigeria's fine given for their fans' unruly behaviour during the African Cup of Nations tournament.    

A statement, issued in Lagos on Tuesday by CAF's organising committee, said the co-hosts would be fined $10,000 after local fans invaded the pitch to celebrate Nigeria's winning goal in their quarter-final against Senegal.    

But a senior official announced on Wednesday that the fine had been reduced to $5,000.

The decision was taken after consultation with CAF President Issa Hayatou, who has been in Accra, Ghana.

Jubilant fans, thinking the game had been won with a "golden goal" during extra time, rushed onto the pitch and stopped play for 10 minutes.

CAF said they took into account that the supporters did not plan to spoil the match, but were unaware that the golden goal rule is not applied in CAF competitions.    

There had been fears that CAF would carry out its previous threat of shutting the Surulere stadium in Lagos, following an earlier incident when Nigerian fans hurled bottles onto the pitch in protest at their team's performance in a 0-0 first round draw with Congo.

Relieved Nigerians

Following Monday evening's quarter-final there were contrasting feelings in the Nigerian and Senegalese camps.

The charm and flavour of the competition would have been destroyed if we'd beaten the co-hosts
Peter Schnittger, Senegal coach
"I'm still stunned, dazed, but relieved by everything," said Nigeria's 18-year-old substitute striker Julius Aghahowa, whose goals ensured victory.

"Use the words 'tense relief' to describe our present mood," said Nigeria's assistant coach Stephen Keshi.

Team captain Sunday Oliseh said: "We're happy and very joyful that we won because we were almost out of the tournament."

Good losers

Ironically, the Senegalese - rather than rueing their exit from the competition - were proud in defeat.

Kanu was instrumental in Nigeria's victory
Striker Khalilou Fadiga, whose sixth minute left-footed volley stunned the home side, said: "We've shown here that we can play football and the Nigerians will never forget us in a hurry."

And German coach Peter Schnittger praised his players.

"They gave a wonderful performance, but playing against the Nigerian team at home and the crowd behaviour made things difficult for us," he said.

When the jubilant fans invaded the pitch, nervous Senegalese players appeared to walk towards their dressing room. They later returned to conclude the match.

"Some of us were frightened that something nasty could happen to us hence we left the pitch," said defender Omar Daf.

Schnittger said: "I think it was nice Nigeria won the match, because anything could have happened to us. Besides the charm and flavour of the competition would have been destroyed if we'd beaten the co-hosts, given that Ghana had been eliminated."

Nigeria play their semi-final match against South Africa on Thursday, while Tunisia and Cameroon meet in the other semi in the Ghanaian capital, Accra

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See also:
09 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Sommersaulting to stardom
04 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Nigeria: 'We are the best'
03 Feb 00 |  Cup Features
Lions celebrate their supercoach
03 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Morocco out as hosts hit form
28 Jan 00 |  Cup News
Pharaohs edge past Senegal
25 Jan 00 |  Cup News
Lions roar in Kano
01 Feb 00 |  Cup News
Draw sees Lions through
22 Jan 00 |  Cup News
Super Eagles off to flying start
28 Jan 00 |  Cup News
Eagles frustrated by Congo
Links to other Cup News stories are at the foot of the page.