Ref Otogo needs to repair Caf's image
MALABO - Gabon referee Eric Otogo will be in the spotlight today as Africa Cup of Nations hosts Equatorial Guinea and Ghana meet in a semifinal after disgraceful scenes in a weekend match involving the hosts.
Last Saturday, a dubious penalty decision in the dying minutes by Mauritian referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn turned the tide in favour of Equatorial Guinea against Tunisia.
After the game, riot police had to protect the match officials from furious Tunisian players.
Otogo, 38, who has officiated in two matches at this tournament, will be expected to redeem the organisers' credibility with his performance in Malabo.
Ghana coach Avram Grant admitted there have been a couple of bad refereeing calls at the tournament, but preferred to focus on preparing his team.
"If the referee will do two, three [mistakes], I cannot control [it]. I can control only our performance," said the former Chelsea manager.
"I think the referees until now - except [for] one or two games - have been good."
This will be Ghana's fifth consecutive semifinal, while the Nzalang Nacional are in the last four for the first time.
If the host nation's passage to the semifinal was controversial, the Black Stars' qualification was most convincing as they dumped Guinea 3-0.
However, they are sweating on the fitness of inspirational skipper Asamoah Gyan, who is nursing a hip injury after a collision with Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara.
England-based striker Kwesi Appiah, who scored against Guinea, could replace Gyan.
Equatorial Guinea are unhappy at having to move to Malabo for the game from their fortress in Bata, where they have not lost an international game.
Goalkeeper Felipe Ovono, who features in the semi-professional home league, has caught the eye and is one of the reasons his country are still in this tournament.
"It will be difficult to win the Cup of Nations, but I pray to still win it," said Argentine coach Esteban Becker, who led Equatorial Guinea to the 2012 African women's title.
"We like the challenge, we are hungry to win."