Congo secured a 1-1 draw against the host nation on Saturday but their head coach was furious that they were delayed for over an hour on the way to the stadium
One of African football’s most respected coaches blasted the host organisers and Confederation of African Football after his team were stuck in a traffic jam for more than an hour on their way to the to the opening game of the Cup of Nations.
“When we go from our team hotel to the stadium for training it takes 12 minutes,” said Claude Le Roy, head coach of Congo, after the 1-1 draw with hosts Equatorial Guinea.
“We were on the bus for 65 minutes, stuck in a traffic jam with everybody else. It was 40 degrees Celsius and the air conditioning wasn’t working.
“I called for help, but the police at the roadside were just laughing. I’m not using it as an excuse, but we started terribly.
“If Caf don’t understand that there should be a police escort for teams to the stadium, well, they should understand it now.”
Equatorial Guinea stepped in as hosts only two months ago when Morocco withdrew, and Caf have expressed their gratitude to the organisers.
“Fantastic, they saved the competition,” said Le Roy, who is leading a team at this tournament for the eighth time. “But you can’t give them everything. The same thing [traffic problems] happened to Burkina Faso.”
The Burkinabe, who played the second game against Gabon in the same stadium, are Equatorial Guinea’s next opponents.
Le Roy, who coached Cameroon to victory in the 1988 Cup of Nations, was happy with the result, given his side had only 20 minutes to prepare and could have been two goals behind inside half an hour.
“We had plenty of talent on the pitch and on the bench, and this is a good start,” he said. “It’s very, very important, psychologically, that we came back well. It gives us a platform.”
Thievy Bifouma, who plays in La Liga for Almeria, scored Congo’s deserved equaliser to cap an impressive display after Emilio Nsue, of Middlesbrough, had put Equatorial Guinea ahead. Congo might have won but for two good saves by the hosts’ goalkeeper, Felipe Ovono.
Congo have not qualified since 2000 and have not been in the knockouts since 1992. Their next game is against Gabon on Wednesday, when they will be hoping to arrive on time.