YAOUNDE, Cameroon — Cameroon’s progress at the African Cup of Nations was overshadowed by a stampede outside the stadium that killed at least six people during the host nation’s victory over Comoros on Monday.
The crush happened as crowds struggled to get access to Olembe Stadium in the capital of Yaounde as Cameroon beat Comoros 2-1 to reach the quarterfinals.
Strikers Karl Toko Ekambi and Vincent Aboubakar gave Cameroon what appeared an insurmountable lead by the 70th minute against the tournament newcomers, who are ranked 132nd in the world and played with a defender in goal due to a coronavirus outbreak in the squad.
Comoros also had to cope with playing most of the match with 10 men after Jimmy Abdou was sent off in the seventh minute for stepping on the back of Moumi Ngamaleu’s ankle.
But Comoros, which reached the round of 16 by ousting four-time African champion Ghana, managed to produce one of the goals of the tournament so far to provide a flicker of hope of a comeback. Youssouf M’Changama scored from a free kick from 30 yards (meters) in the 81st but Comoros couldn’t produce an equalizer.
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Details of the tragedy outside the stadium were only confirmed after the game. Officials at the nearby Messassi hospital said they had received at least 40 injured people from the stampede.
“Some of the injured are in desperate condition,” said Olinga Prudence, a nurse. “We will have to evacuate them to a specialized hospital.”
Cameroon is hosting Africa’s flagship football tournament for the first time in 50 years.
Cameroon is scheduled to play another tournament debutant on Saturday in the quarterfinals in Douala after Guinea beat Gambia 1-0 in the day’s other game after a goal from Musa Barrow in the 71st.
Gambia had Yusupha Njie sent off in the 87th for elbowing an opponent as they went up for a header, but Egyptian referee Amin Omar also gave Guinea’s Ibrahima Conte a second yellow in injury time.
Guinea was playing without regular captain Naby Keita, who was suspended after picking up two yellow cards in the group stage.
Guinea did have a clear chance to equalize late on when it hit the post, then the crossbar and had a goal-bound shot blocked in quick succession.