Photos By Senyuiedzorm A. Adadevoh
There is growing feeling among players, coaches and fans that Gabon’s work on its pitches for this Afcon has not been up to scratch.
Although not every single injury at the tournament can be ascribed to the hard surfaces, a growing number of players have succumbed. In the Burkina Faso game with Gabon on Wednesday, four players got crocked after landing awkwardly, including star man Jonathan Pitroipa who was subbed very early on for Prejuce Nakoulma.
Jonathan Zongo, another key Stallion, is also out of the Afcon and needs around seven months of treatment for cruciate ligament damage in his knee, while Gabon’ fullback Johann Obiang also left in the first half.
Egypt’s Sherif Ekramy pulled a hamstring at the weekend, while two DR Congo players had to be subbed against Morocco, including goalscorer Kabananga. Ghana’s Baba Rahman is out of the tournament after getting injured against Uganda and will be treated in Germany.
“Yes, after our tests in Libreville, we saw that Baba Rahman’s injury was due to the pitch,” the Black Stars team medic Dr. Baba Adam told supersport.com.
Egypt head coach Hector Cuper blamed the surfaces for his side’s disjointed play against Mali on Tuesday. “The pitch was awful, but temperature and humidity too played a key role,” he said.
“The pitches are sandy and make ball control difficult. Even worse, it makes our thighs very heavy during games. It’s very frustrating,” one player lamented to Pulse, while Ghana skipper Asamoah Gyan chose to be diplomatic about it.
“Well, no disrespect to the Accra Stadium [in Ghana], but if you can play there you can play anywhere!” he said.
For a country which had time to put this tournament together, and has also hosted an Afcon just five years ago, the comments do not paint a good picture.
Managing Director of Green Grass Technology (GGT), a pitch development solutions firm, is emphatic in his assessment of the structures in Ghana.
“Watching the games from afar, the knee joint,ankle and hamstring injuries can be as a cause of the nature of the pitch,” Frank Boahene tells Radio VISA.
Boahene, who has been the main man behind all the major stadia pitches in Ghana, had a bit of advise. “The new pitches seems not to be well developed,so during games the deep rotted grass comes out from the ground. I will advise the pitch managers to water the pitches few minutes to kickoff and at half time 15 minutes interval to make sure the pitch is safe for footballers and also players should watch the kind of football boots they wear.”
In the meantime, fans would hope the stars of the Afcon don’t get robbed off their time in the limelight due to the surfaces.