Pitch chaos leads to wild scenes at end of football match (VIDEO)
Sierra Leone were gifted a last-gasp equalizer when unfortunate Badra Ali Sangare pawed a pass into the path of Alhaji Kamara – and ex-Tottenham defender Serge Aurier went in goal after the goalkeeper was stretchered off.
Commentators called the unlikely conclusion "incredible" and "unbelievable" as incredulous Sierra Leone players raced over to celebrate their leveler in the 93rd minute of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Group E fixture in Douala, which ended 2-2.
The 35-year-old goalkeeper tried to jump on the ball to prevent a corner, only to lucklessly throw possession back into the center of the goalmouth from under himself.
Danish Superliga star Kamara fell over before cleverly chipping the opportunity into the net beyond desperately backpedaling center-back Simon Deli.
Champions League top scorer Sebastien Haller, who had put Ivory Coast 1-0 up after 25 minutes, looked stunned on the bench as the Ajax striker saw his side's lead wiped out in agonizing fashion.
Sangare, who plays for South African team Uthongathi, tripped badly as he gave the ball to Steven Caulker, allowing the former Spurs ace to provide the assist for Kamara.
The goalkeeper then lay prone on the turf in pain and had to be treated by medics and carrried off on a stretcher.
Ivory Coast had already used five substitutes, so captain Aurier wore the gloves for the Elephants during the closing stages.
Ex-Spurs right-back Aurier was tested as Sierra Leone pushed for a third goal, although the minnows ranked 108th in the world were jubilant with their dramatically-earned point.
That pitch is a disgrace. How can we expect AFCON to become as big as Euros with pitches like that?— ⭐⭐ (@_Carefree_C) January 16, 2022
"Best of all is the spirit we have shown," said coach John Keister. "Just to be here is a win for us."
Former Sierra Leone player and manager Sierra Leone was amazed by Kamara's goal. "That is unbelievable," the ex-West Ham striker said on co-commentary duties for Sky. "[Sangare] looks to be in real trouble there – he looks to be in real pain.
"It's an absolutely innocuous backpass and what he's trying to do is just get hold of it, but he drops it and it seems to flick out of his harm."
After Musa Noah Kamara leveled for Sierra Leone ten minutes after the break, Arsenal livewire Nicolas Pepe restored Ivory Coast's advantage in the 65th minute.
The 2015 champions remain top of the group on four points after beating Equatorial Guinea in their tournament opener.
Laughable moment, but it’s actually a very damning reality. Pitch is in such a bad condition that it’s injured the keeper & thrown him into the air. There’s a case to suggest he’s trying to save face and cover his error, but it’s still very obvious just how bad that pitch is.— Mitch (@mitchwilks) January 16, 2022
One observer claimed the decisive goal highlighted "a very damning reality" for African football.
"The pitch is in such a bad condition that it’s injured the keeper and thrown him into the air," they added. "There’s a case to suggest he’s trying to save face and cover his error [by lying on the turf], but it’s still very obvious just how bad that pitch is."
As others mocked AFCON, the viewer added that the "poor facilities due to international ignorance" did not make the tournament "poor quality or useless".
"This is a funny isolated incident and an error that is made worldwide," they added. "Don’t use this as your way of devaluing a huge tournament with immense talent on show."
With a goalkeeping crisis on their hands if Sangare is ruled out of action, Ivory Coast will now look to seal knockout phase qualification by beating bottom-of-the-group Algeria on Thursday.
Sierra Leone face Equatorial Guinea on the same day. The rearranged tournament continues until February 6 2022.