Nigerian security forces fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of angry fans who stormed the pitch and went on a rampage after Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2022 World Cup late Tuesday. Outraged supporters flooded the field of the sold-out 60,000 capacity stadium in the capital, after Ghana upset the home team by forcing a 1-1 draw to win the African play-off on away goals and dash Nigeria's hopes of appearing in the World Cup later this year.
Some of fans smashed benches while others chanted "Pinnick must go! Pinnick must go!!", referring to the president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick.
Local security was slow to react to the violence, which included a pitch invasion on the final whistle, and the Ghana players were left to battle their own way towards the tunnel in scenes that will no doubt draw the ire of the Confederation of African Football and Fifa.
When police finally did get involved they started to beat the rioters with their batons, while it took teargas on the pitch to disperse the unruly fans, who also smashed the dugouts.
Tuesday's match marked the first time since October 2011 that the Nigerian football team played in MKO Abiola stadium, which underwent about one-million-dollar renovation spearheaded by Africa's richest man Aliko Dangote.
Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey scored the goal that took Ghana to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar as they forced a 1-1 draw in Nigeria on Tuesday to win the African play-off on away goals. Partey struck after 10 minutes in Abuja and although another Premier League star, William Troost-Ekong, levelled from a 22nd-minute penalty, Nigeria failed to score again. The first leg ended goalless. The Black Stars of Ghana are back in the World Cup finals after qualifying in 2006, 2010 and 2014, but missing out four years ago.
Defeat was a massive blow for favourites Nigeria, who were chasing a seventh appearance in eight attempts since debuting at the 1994 World Cup.
Public servants in the Nigerian capital were given a half-day and free transport was arranged from the suburbs to ensure a capacity 60,000 crowd cheered on the Super Eagles.
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