Nelspruit – Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor has slammed the Confederation of African Football (Caf) and the local organising committee for the state of the pitch at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.
The Tottenham Hotspur player complained about the sandy and bumpy surface after Togo drew 1-1 against Tunisia on Wednesday to reach the playoffs of the continental competition for the first time. They face Burkina Faso in the quarterfinals on Sunday.
Zambia captain Chris Katongo had also spoken out earlier in the week about the uneven field which made it difficult for teams to play their normal passing games.
“Once again we are in Africa – Afcon is a big tournament for Africa – the whole world is watching this. You can't play on a pitch like this,” Adebayor said.
“The stadium is one of the best I have played in, but to be honest with you, I'm very sorry, but it's a disgrace for our continent to be playing on this pitch when its on the TV around the world.
“Caf have to sort things out, to solve the problem. At the end of the day we are all African and we have to be honest with ourselves – it's a beautiful stadium but the pitch is not happening.
“Those people that watch the game in Europe, they will be sending SMS's to me tonight asking me, 'are you playing in the bush or what?'. It's a disgrace to our continent, we can do better.”
The issue with the playing surface arose after sand had been laid on the pitch to counter several days of heavy rain – a move which was apparently not sanctioned by the Caf.
“South Africans had the chance to organise the 2010 World Cup,” Adebayor said.
“I think Caf should have come one month before to get the pitch in a better condition, but at the end of the day we are here and we have to find a way to play.” – Sapa