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Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 14:44 GMT 15:44 UK
Nkono ban lifted
Cameroon's coach Winfried Schafer appeals for help as his colleague is set upon by police
The police action nearly caused a diplomatic incident
A ban imposed on former African Footballer of the Year Thomas Nkono has been lifted, according to the Confederation of African Football.

Caf imposed the one-year ban on Cameroon's goalkeeping coach after he was involved in a pitch-side fight with Malian police shortly before his team played the hosts in the semi-finals of the Nations Cup.

He was beaten, stripped and handcuffed in full view of 50,000 fans after police accused him of dropping 'magic' on the pitch in Bamako.

A Caf disciplinary committee at the time found that Nkono, a former international goalkeeper, was the cause of the incident.

That verdict was met with incredulity from those who saw the fracas.

Political intervention

But on Tuesday Caf said it had accepted new evidence from Cameroon's FA, and was lifting the ban after just two months.

The incident on 7 February came close to causing a diplomatic incident.

That was avoided after Mali's president Alpha Oumar Konare offered his personal apology.

However it left a sour note after an otherwise good-natured Nations Cup tournament.

Cameroon coach Winfried Schafer had refused to go ahead with the game against Mali after Nkono was released and returned sobbing to the team's dressing room.

The match only began after the hurried intervention of Caf officials.

But Nkono was still banned from sitting on the Cameroon bench when they won the final three days later in a penalty shootout against Senegal.

See also:

08 Apr 02 | Sports Talk
06 Apr 02 | Africa
07 Feb 02 | Cup of Nations
Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


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