Senegal president flies fans to Ghana

January 17, 2008

DAKAR, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade has lent his presidential jet to fly fans to watch the national team's opening African Nations Cup game in Ghana.

The tournament starts on Sunday in the Ghanaian capital Accra, while Senegal play their opening Group D match against Tunisia on Jan. 23 in Tamale.

'The supporters will leave onboard the presidential plane which will do two trips to Ghana on the 21 and 22 of January,' the ministry said in a statement.

With many ordinary Africans unable to afford airfares and road transport across West Africa dangerous because of poor routes and banditry, many fans risk missing the opportunity to see their sides in action.

Neighbouring Guinea has cancelled a convoy of buses supposed to ferry fans to Ghana because of concerns about road safety in war-divided northern Ivory Coast.

Senegal, who beat Benin 2-1 in a warm-up match on Wednesday, has set up a camp in Tamale to accommodate some 425 fans.

The Sports Ministry will provide some money for living expenses for Senegalese who travel to support the national team: two million CFA francs ($4,469) for fans in Ghana and a total of five million for fans from Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin and Guinea Bissau.

Senegal have never won the Nations Cup but reached the final in 2002, losing on penalties to Cameroon.

The same year, the 'Lions' became only the second African side to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup.