Sunday, 10 January 2010

Togo Government Withdraws From Africa Cup of Nations - Team Play on Updated

The armed attack on the Togo team coach yesterday, in which the driver, a press officer and assistant coach were killed and 2 players injured has led to their withdrawal from the Africa Cup of Nations.

Both the Angolan government and tournament officials spent the day persuading the players to stay for their group matches. But clearly the half hour under fire on their way the players are not prepared to play as their first choice keeper said:

"None of the team is ready to play, we're all devastated, everyone wants to go and see their family.

"We came here to take part in a festival of African football, but it's as if we've gone to war."

Team captain Manchester City's Emmanuel Adebayor said:

"It's a football game, it's one of the biggest tournaments in Africa and a lot of people would love to be in our position but I don't think anybody would be prepared to give their life.

"If I am alive I can still play football tomorrow and in one year maybe even another Cup of Nations but I am not ready to pass away now."

The Angolan Prime Minister had met with tournament officials and he office issued a statement which said:

"The prime minister considers the incident in Cabinda as an isolated act and repeated that the security of Togo's team and the other squads is guaranteed."

However, the problem is that although the civil war in Angola ended eight years ago the northern area of Cabinda still has an active guerrilla group. The oil rich region is where the Group B games featuring Togo Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire and Burkino Faso where to take place. The group Frente para a Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda have taken responsibility for the attack, so the players comments that they have gone to war is sadly close to the truth.

FIFA are obviously concerned about the incident with happened 15 minutes after the Togolese coach entered Angola from Congo. They have issued the following statement:

"Fifa and its president, Sepp Blatter, are deeply moved by today's incidents which affected Togo's national team, to whom they express their utmost sympathy," said a statement.

"Fifa is in touch with the African Football Confederation (CAF) and its president, Issa Hayatou, from which it expects a full report on the situation."

However, despite the Togolese manager calling for the entire tournament being called off it looks like it will be carrying on as scheduled tomorrow.

Meanwhile World Cup boss Danny Jordann is allaying fears that the June show piece in South Africa will also be affected. He says:

"It's nothing to do with it and I think everybody understands it has nothing to do with South Africa," he said.

"When there was a bomb in London no-one said we should not have 2012 in London so we cannot have double standards."

He is quite right of course the domestic incidents on one country of the World have nothing to do with another most of the time. An association by proximity is totally wrong.

UPDATED Whilst the Togolese government had withdrawn the team, the team themselves have decided that they want to stay in Angola to honour the three members of their party who died. Nantes striker Thomas Dossevi said:

"We are all heartbroken, it is no longer a party, but we want to show our national colours, our values and that we are men.

"It was a decision taken nearly unanimously by the team which met during the night after having been reassured by the Angolan authorities."

Adding to this comment Grenoble midfielder Alaixys Romao added:

"We have just had a meeting of the whole delegation and we will be on the pitch on Monday to face Ghana."
Originally posted 9 January at 19:51

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