Rangers trio among players caught up in Nigeria riots as one official confirmed dead

Rangers players Joe Aribo, Calvin Bassey and Leon Balogun sheltered in their dressing room for more than an hour as an angry pitch invasion raged following Nigeria’s World Cup exit.

A doping official, Dr Joseph Kabungo, also suffered a cardiac arrest and died after the game which saw Ghana qualify for the World Cup in Qatar at their hosts’ expense following the 1-1 draw in Abuja on Tuesday.

Dugouts were smashed, missiles thrown and sponsors boards flattened by angry fans spilling onto the playing surface at full-time which led to police using tear-gas in an attempt to clear the pitch.

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Nigerian media brila.net reported that the Super Eagles, including the Rangers trio, were kept protected inside for more than an hour.

Shocking footage showed fans breaking seats and climbing on the goal-frame and nets before the Zambian FA broke the tragic news of the doctor’s death.

Zambian FA president Andrew Kamanga said: “We mourn the passing of our CAF/FIFA medical officer Dr Joseph Kabungo who was on duty as a doping officer in Tuesday’s match involving Nigeria and Ghana, and we extend condolences to Dr Kabungo’s family and the football family at large.

"He was a dedicated and widely loved member of our football community and his impact was vast.

Angry football fans break the players' bench as violence broke-out following Ghana's defeat over Nigeria at the World Cup 2022 qualifying football match between Nigeria and Ghana at the National Stadium in Abuja on March 29, 2022. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images)

"Dr Kabungo was a friend and confidant to many generations of players and families.”

Bassey, Balogun and Aribo had all started the final African qualification play-off where Arsenal’s Thomas Partey opened the scoring for Ghana after 10 minutes but a penalty for the home side, converted by William Troost Ekong, levelled the score on the night and on aggregate. However, after a goalless first leg it was Otto Addo’s team joining Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia and Cameroon as Africa’s representatives in Qatar.

The match was Calvin Bassey’s first international start for the Super Eagles, having made his debut in the first leg. Aribo earned his 17th international appearance while Berlin-born Balogun is closing in on his 50th Nigerian cap.

The Rangers trio are now expected back in Scotland by Giovanni van Bronckhorst ahead of the Old Firm derby against Celtic on Sunday. The Ibrox clash will have a big say in the SPFL title race with just three points separating the reigning champions from the present cinch Premiership leaders.

Leon Balogun, Joe Aribo and Calvin Bassey played for Nigeria in the play-off second-leg (Pictures: SNS)

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Nigeria's Leon Balogun reacts after Ghana's victory (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images)
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