Cape Town - Complaints about referees are common in football, but frustrated host Equatorial Guinea is claiming an actual conspiracy at the African Cup of Nations.
Equatorial Guinea's football federation said it sent "a letter of protest" to tournament organizers this week following a disallowed goal by captain Emilio Nsue in the opening game of the African Cup, a 1-1 draw with Republic of Congo in Bata on Saturday. Nsue was ruled offside though TV replays suggested he wasn't.
The federation thinks the incident may have been more than just a mistake by match officials.
"The federation considers ... that the annulment (of the goal) is part of a planned action to complicate the passing of the Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea to the quarterfinals," the federation said in a statement released through the government's press and information office.
The statement said federation staff viewed the video of Nsue's disallowed goal and asked "sports analysts" for their opinion before concluding "that this is an injustice and possibly a predetermined action of the referees."
In the protest letter sent to the Confederation of African Football, new federation president Andres Jorge Mbomio "invites the CAF to correct these referees, to stop this behavior which, in his opinion, is not the first time that (it) affects the national team of Equatorial Guinea," the statement said.
The federation didn't clarify what it meant by "not the first time."
CAF hasn't responded publicly to the apparent protest.
In fact, the Central African country is fortunate to be playing at the 2015 African Cup at all after it was disqualified from the tournament last year for fielding an ineligible player in qualifying. The country was reinstated after it took over as host from Morocco.
Equatorial Guinea's federation also overlooked a goal by Nsue in the first half against Republic of Congo, which was allowed to stand when replays suggested he was offside that time.
Equatorial Guinea has drawn both its games and now must beat neighbor Gabon in the final round of games in Group A to qualify for the quarters — the very least the raucous home fans expect.