'That's what small teams do' -- Ayew slams Gabon after AFCON punch-up

Ghana and Gabon shared unsavoury exchanges during their AFCON match. Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Andre Ayew has explained what made Ghana so angry with their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) opponents Gabon at the conclusion of their ill-tempered 1-1 draw in Friday's Group C encounter at the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Yaounde.

Gabon snatched an 88th-minute equaliser through Jim Allevinah as the Panthers played on in search of a goal despite Ghana having put the ball out in order for stricken Daniel-Kofi Kyereh to receive treatment.

Gabon's celebrations at the final whistle pre-empted a brawl between the two sides, with Ghana's Benjamin Tetteh shown a red card for throwing a punch at Gabon's Aaron Boupendza, and security coming onto the pitch to protect the match officials amidst violent scenes.

"It's small on their part, but that's what small teams do," Ayew told ESPN after the match. "We put the ball into touch because our player was on the ground.

"In the fairness of football, when you then take [the throw-in] you give us back the ball, but they didn't... and that's why they scored.

"We were waiting for the ball to come back to us and telling them: 'give the ball back, give it back, give it to us' -- but they didn't, and they scored," he continued. "It's small of them, and I'm disappointed in them."

Ayew, who was named Man of the Match in a fiery contest, had opened the scoring for the Black Stars with a thumping left-footed effort from range in the 18th minute, as Ghana looked much improved from their opening 1-0 defeat by Morocco.

However, they tired during the second half, losing the momentum that had made them so potent during the early stages, allowing Gabon to grow back into the game before Allevinah's late equaliser.

Nonetheless, Ayew believes they would not have made the breakthrough had they not resorted to what he labelled as unsporting behaviour.

"I think 99 times out of 100, the ball is given back," he added. "If it's not going to be given back, then we wouldn't have put the ball out.

"Abdul Raham Baba had it, he was all alone, no one was pressing him. He could have held onto the ball, we could have gone forward, whatever, but he put it out because a player was on the floor. It's as simple as that.

"For the whole match we were in a deep block, we were solid, they couldn't score."

Tetteh was shown a retrospective red card by Algerian referee Lahlou Benbraham for his part in a post-match punch-up, instigated by Ayew's unhappy reaction to Gabon's backroom staff celebrating the final whistle and their team's point.

The result takes the Panthers to the brink of the knockout stages following their opening victory against Comoros, while Ghana now need a victory against the debutants to remain in contention for the knockouts.

"We'll take our medicine, do our best to win the next match - against the Comoros -- and we hope the four points will be enough to reach the next round," Ayew concluded. "It's no problem, we're Ghana, we're going to win the last game and go through."

Ghana, who are in the hunt for a first Nations Cup title since 1982, have not exited the Nations Cup in the group stage since 2010.