Ghana's big day beset by problems

Click to follow

"Go Ghana", the billboards lining the streets of Accra implored, while feverish disc jockeys talked up yesterday's opening African Nations Cup match at the Ohene Djan Stadium between the hosts and Guinea.

But while the country was enthusiastic about the start of the tournament, there was much to suggest that preparations have not gone exactly according to plan. The South Africans were unhappy yesterday with the practice facilities that have been laid on for the team in Tamale in northern Ghana and said they will be lodging an official complaint with the tournament organisers.

That was indicative of the general lack of preparedness afflicting the tournament as a whole. On Friday in Accra, a fist-fight broke out at the press accreditation centre, while several of the teams arriving in the country were said to have complained about overbooked accommodation or transport problems.

The group based in Kumasi for example, comprising the defending champions Egypt plus Cameroon, Sudan and Zambia, discovered a slight problem with their hotel – the fact that it had not been built. And the Nigerians discovered their internal flight from Accra to Sekondi couldn't take off because the Nigerian squad was too large.

Guinea's capital Conakry, meanwhile, was decked out in the red, yellow and green colours of the national side on Saturday as fans celebrated on the eve of yesterday's game.

A party in support of the team lasted late into the night at the city's September 28 stadium. A giant placard of a footballer adorned a major roundabout at the entrance to the city, while whistle-blowing supporters of the Syli – Elephants in Guinea's Soussou language – stopped traffic to collect money for the team.

"It's been a long time since we've seen such enthusiasm for the national side," said Alassane Sow, the secretary-general of the Sports Ministry. "Usually we get less than 250 million Guinean francs for the national team. This year we have more than 800 million."