18 October, 2007

Back to Africa

If you thought unbelievably shameless corruption and match-fixing was the only reason to watch African football, think again. Chances are that if you’re lucky you might even get to join in an actual riot! In the recent titanic showdown between Mali and Togo, it properly kicked off when Mali cruised to victory 2-0, helped by Stoke City behemoth Mamaday ‘Big Mama’ Sidibe, who almost paid the ultimate price for his performance.

Sidibe was knocked unconscious when Togo fans invaded the pitch after the win for Mali pipped them to a place in next year's African Cup of Nations finals, and he then subsequently lacerated two muscles in his right arm when he was actually dragged through a window during a desperate struggle to escape the trouble. The 27-year-old striker was still too distressed to talk about the John McClane-esque incident at length yesterday, but confirmed: “I think I am going to be out for three weeks, but at least I am safe now.” Sidibe's injury will undoubtedly leave both club and the player questioning the wisdom of his participation of future matches in Africa, especially after the rioters even smashed up the ambulances at the stadium so he had to be rushed to hospital in an army vehicle. Potteries manager Tony Pulis offered this comment: “By the sounds of it, he could have come out of it a lot worse. If an artery had been severed instead of muscles, it could have been fatal. You just can't believe this has happened at a football match.” This ain’t football though Tony, THIS IS AFRICA.

The riot is currently being investigated by African football chiefs, while FIFA are more than likely to examine a report from their representative at the game. The attacks are suspected to be revenge for similar bloodshed in Mali in 2006, when a World Cup qualifier against Togo had to be abandoned because of rioting fans, but apparently additional security measures were deemed unnecessary. This comes just months after all round Original Gangster and poster-child Obafemi Martins narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in his native Nigeria. He survived by doing this: