The Zambian FA has confirmed that medical officer Dr Joseph Kabungo passed away on Tuesday night whilst on duty at the match between Nigeria and Ghana.
Ghana became the first African club to secure their spot for the World Cup in Qatar later this year, drawing 1-1 in the Abuja National Stadium to progress on away goals. Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey scored the all-important goal for the Black Stars after just 10 minutes, with Watford defender William Troost-Ekong equalising for Nigeria from the penalty spot.
The game transcended into chaos after the full-time whistle sounded as the Nigeria fans stormed onto the pitch to show their displeasure at failing to qualify for the tournament for the first time since 2006. However, the passing of Dr Kabungo overshadowed the entire night of football.
The Football Association of Zambia (ZAF) released a statement on Wednesday morning that read: “The Football Association of Zambia joins the rest of the football family in mourning the late Dr Joseph Kabungo. Dr Kabungo, a CAF/FIFA medical officer was on duty in Abuja for the second leg, the final qualifying match between Nigeria and Ghana that ended 1-1.”
Dr Kabungo was acting as a doping officer for the World Cup qualifier match and was a familiar face in the Zambia footballing setup. He was present at several previous tournaments and also was due to be a part of the medical team in Qatar for the World Cup itself.
ZAF President Andrew Kamanga said: “We take note that it is too early to dwell into the nitty-gritty of the cause of his death but will wait for the full report from CAF and FIFA on what exactly transpired. He was a dedicated and widely loved member of our football community and his impact was vast, having also been part of the 2012 Africa Cup-winning team.
“His death is a huge loss as Dr Kabungo was a friend and confidant to many generations of players and their families. He was one of the outstanding Zambian football personalities that flew the Zambian flag at global football events.
Police had to use tear gas to remove the Nigerian fans from the pitch after the match as hundreds stormed onto the field to damage the goals, stadium and billboards. Reports have also claimed that the away allocation of Ghanian supporters were also targeted both inside and outside of the stadium.
The Ghana players were also forced to sprint down the tunnel at full time and seek safety in the dugouts of the stadium, with social media showing objects being thrown at the Black Stars squad as they escaped. Approximately 20,000 tickets for the match were given to Nigerian fans for free so that an encouraging atmosphere could be created at the home ground. -Mirror
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