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A Confederation of African Football doctor died as Super Eagles supporters stormed the pitch

Nigeria fans invaded the pitch and threw objects at the opposition’s supporters and players after their country missed out on qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Abuja on Tuesday, with a Confederation of African Football (CAF) doping doctor also dying on the evening.

The Super Eagles failed to book their tickets for FIFA’s showpiece tournament in Qatar in November by drawing 1-1 to Ghana in a playoff second leg and therefore losing on away goals.

Passionate spectators unable to accept the result stormed the pitch after the full-time whistle, as security guards slow to react left Ghana’s players fending for themselves while trying to get to the tunnel safely to exit the scene.

Pockets of the Nigeria faithful that couldn’t stay in their seats and had to find an outlet for their anger threw objects at the Black Star players and their small traveling group of fans at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, with police eventually entering the fray by beating rioters with their batons.

The unruly mob, who also smashed the ground’s dugouts, were dispersed by tear gas and the death of CAF doping doctor Joseph Kabungo on the evening was also confirmed.

Conflicting reports suggested Kabungo died as a consequence of the stampede that occurred before the match or the riot after it, but other sources at the CAF said he passed from a sudden heart issue. Announcing the death, the Zambian FA (FAZ) warned against any speculation.

“Today [Wednesday] we mourn the passing of our CAF/FIFA medical officer Dr. Joseph Kabungo who was on duty as a Doping officer in Tuesday’s match involving Nigeria and Ghana, and we extend our sincere condolences to Dr Kabungo’s family and the football family at large,” FAZ president Andrew Kamanga began in a statement.

“We take note that it is too early to dwell into the nitty-gritty of the cause of his death but will wait for the full report from CAF and FIFA on what exactly transpired,” Kamanga added.

Kabungo was described as a “dedicated and widely loved member of our football community” with his impact “vast” while having also been part of Zambia’s 2012 Africa Cup of Nations-winning team.

“His death is a huge loss as Dr Kabungo was a friend and confidant to many generations of players and their families,” Kamanga further said of the “permanent fixture at football events including the FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar which is a precursor for the 2022 World Cup”.

“He was one of the outstanding Zambian football personalities that flew the Zambian flag at global football events. We all have to learn from his example of excellence and celebrate his legacy by breeding more hard-working football Zambian administrators,” Kamanga concluded.

Multiple sources at CAF say the death of Dr Joseph Kabungo in Abuja last night was not related to the post-match violence. One medical professional says “it was a sudden heart issue. The ambulance services delayed, but it wasn’t related to the violence”. pic.twitter.com/6a19VfrsFH

— Gary Al-Smith (@garyalsmith) March 30, 2022

While one reporter remarked on Twitter that a CAF medical professional said Kabungo’s was due to a “sudden heart issue” and “wasn’t related to the violence” as the arrival of the ambulance was “delayed”, a Ghanaian journalist had a different account.

“They beat him, he fell and they trod on him,” the journalist added when quote-tweeting a short report about Kabungo’s passing. “He lost consciousness [and] was rushed to an ambulance closer to the Ghana dressing room for CPR. The entire Ghanaian contingent watched on as resuscitation attempts were made with an oxygen mask. He was taken to hospital later and now this. Sad.”

“I lost some money, Dr. Baah Nuako lost his two phones. What I witnessed today really scared me,” the same figure said later after safely boarding his flight back to Accra. “Our brothers took this too far,” he lamented.

They beat him, he fell and they throded on him. He lost consciousness was rushed to an ambulance closer to the Ghana dressing for CPR. The entire Ghanaian contingent watched on as resuscitation attempts were made with oxygen mask. He was taken to hospital later and now this. Sad.

— Collins Atta Poku (@PapaPoku) March 30, 2022

I lost some money, Dr. Baah Nuako lost his two phones. A CAF match official needed oxygen yet had to be rushed to hospital. What i witnessed today really scared me. Alas i’m off to Qatar with @kakra19 and I am safely aboard my flight back to Ghana. Our brothers took this too far

— Collins Atta Poku (@PapaPoku) March 29, 2022

By failing to beat Ghana after a scoreless 0-0 away draw on Friday, Nigeria miss out on their first World Cup since 2006 and had qualified for six of the past seven editions of the tournament.

Thus far, Nigeria are still yet to better their last 16 appearances in 1994, 1998 and 2014 and didn’t make it out of the group in Russia four years ago.

As communicated by some of their reactions, most of the 60,000 fans in attendance in Abuja had expected their countrymen to head to Qatar, but a blunder from goalkeeper Francis Uzoho paved the way for Thomas Partey to give Ghana the lead in the 10th minute.

William Troost-Ekong equalized with a penalty shortly after on 22 minutes, but the Super Eagles rarely threatened the visitors in the second half and therefore bitterly disappointed the masses.

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