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03.04.2004 League Report

Kotoko want match moved from troubled Ivory Coast

By Reuters
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ACCRA, April 2 - Former African champions Asante Kotoko have asked for next weekend's African Champions League match against ASEC Abidjan to be moved from the Ivory Coast because of the volatile political situation in the country.

Ghana's Football Association asked the Confederation of African Football to move the second round, first leg match in Abidjan on April 11 to a neutral venue, officials said on Friday.

The club said they feared rising tension in Abidjan, which has been beset by clashes between government forces and opposition supporters in recent weeks.

Asante Kotoko and ASEC, who have both previously won the top club prize in Africa, have a long history of animosity.

When ASEC beat Kotoko in the quarter-final of the 1992 Champions Cup, supporters of the Ghanaian club stoned buses carrying ASEC fans, who had travelled across the border between the two west African countries to support their team.

When news of the attacks reached Abidjan, more than 20 people were killed as angry Abidjan residents hunted out immigrant Ghanaians living in the district of Treichville to exact revenge.

Last week, at least 104 people were killed in the city, according to morgue officials, after opposition supporters tried to defy an official ban to march against Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo.

Police announced a death toll of 37, including two policemen, while the opposition claimed more than 300 people were killed, mostly in reprisal killings after the aborted march.

A civil war, which started two years ago, has left the Ivory Coast split between a rebel-held north and a government-controlled south.

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