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Saturday, 09 January 2010


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Togo orders attacked team home from African Cup
By Colin Droniou (AFP) – 2 hours ago

CABINDA, Angola — Togo's government insisted Sunday that the national football team return from the African Nations Cup in Angola after a deadly attack on their convoy, even after the squad said they wanted to play.

Hours before the opening match in Luanda, players said they wanted to honour those killed in Friday's separatist attack by sticking with the tournament even though one teammate lay in a Johannesburg hospital with bullet wounds.

But Togo government spokesman Pascal Bodjona told AFP in Lome that the team must return home.

"People are dead. The goalkeeper (Kodjovi) Obilale is in intensive care," he said.

"The best thing to do is not to stay," he said. "The government is maintaining its decision to call the team back home."

The announcement added to confusion over whether Togo, one of Africa's strongest teams, would compete in the continent's top football event after the attack that killed the assistant coach and squad spokesman and injured nine.

Nations Cup organisers and Angolan Prime Minister Paulo Kassoma had made impassioned pleas for Togo to stay, making repeated assurances to bolster security for the games.

Angolan rebels warn weapons will "talk" in Cabinda

The Cabinda shooting had police on edge in Luanda where a burst of gunfire was heard near the centre of the capital early Sunday.

Witness Rafael Antas said: "They (the police) fired shots into the ground after a driver refused to stop for them."

"The last time I heard gunshots in Luanda was at the end of the (civil) war in 2002," said another witness, Antonia Godinha. "The police are panicking after what happened up in Cabinda," she added.

Togo international Thomas Dossevi, who plays for French side Nantes, told AFP in Cabinda that the players had unanimously decided that they wanted to stay despite the security worries.

"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," Dossevi said.

Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor had earlier been reported by his club Manchester City to be returning to Britain.

Kassoma met with CAF president Issa Hayatou to reassure him about player safety ahead of the opening match in Luanda at 1900 GMT Sunday.

"Let us go on together, united in this big event, this major celebration of African youth in this year of glory for African sport," Kassoma said on state radio.

Hooded gunmen opened fire on the Togo team's buses as they crossed into the restive Angolan enclave of Cabinda in an attack claimed by a faction of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), a separatist group battling for independence in the oil-rich territory.

It warned the attack was "only the start of a series of targeted actions".

Goalkeeper Obilale was in a good condition after undergoing surgery in a Johannesburg hospital for gunshot wounds to the lower back and abdomen, a doctor told reporters.

"The operation went well. It was a routine operation... The patient is in good general condition," said surgeon Elias Degiannis.

He had already undergone an operation in Cabinda, the doctor said, adding that it was still too early to assess the full extent of his injuries.

Organisers had earlier insisted the games would proceed as planned, but did not say how they would handle Togo's decision to withdraw its team.

"CAF is continuing with its schedule and the sovereign authorities of the country (Angola) are taking the adequate measures surrounding security," said Constant Omari, a member of the organising committee.

Hosts Angola take on Mali Sunday at Luanda's new 50,000-seat November 11 Stadium in the first game in the 22-day tournament.

George Esunge Fominyen

Thanks for the updates on the situation. That is what interactivity is all about. That's what's interesting about blogging too! It allows all to contribute.

It's a pity though, that the AfCon has to start-off amidst such confusion.


The Entrepreneur Newsonline Inc.

...Instead of mourning his compatriots, Adebayor would be playing in Manchester next week to end big fat pay that would be taxed to the Queen's exchequer!

..."Comments like (yours) though got me thinking, what major sporting events can I remember being affected by Terrorism, violence and loss of life? Instantly the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich where eleven Israeli athletes and coaches and one West German police officer were killed by militant group “Black September” jumped to mind causing the Olympic Games to be suspended for the first time the events modern history. But ultimately the world decided that violence committed by a few would not be allowed to defeat us all. And the games went on …

I then remembered the Centennial Park bombing during the 1996 Summer Olympics, Two people died, and 111 were injured, caused by a bomber who was angry at the American government and hoped his action would result in the cancellation of those Olympics. But Again the world stood firm and said No to allowing violence to dictate to us all.

So why not with us here in Africa?

Tired of Politics:


The competition is not being cancelled, is it? But Togo has the option of participating or not and it not for anybody to judge.

The Entrepreneur Newsonline Inc.

...Togo is stupid. You either decide to quit or you play. You can't have it both ways,
especially when you allow the media to do
the thinking for you:

Quote: "The country’s sports minister Christophe Tchao was quoted this morning saying a formal request had been made to return after a three-day period of mourning but prime minister Gilbert Houngbo has since denied they want to re-enter the tournament."

More at:

11/01/2010 - 15:58:59
The Confederation of African Football have all but disqualified Togo from the African Nations Cup by confirming the team will not be allowed to re-enter the competition if they do not take part in tonight’s scheduled game against Ghana.

Confusion has reigned since Togo pulled out of the tournament in Angola and returned home after a gun attack on their team bus left three people dead last Friday.

The country’s sports minister Christophe Tchao was quoted this morning saying a formal request had been made to return after a three-day period of mourning but prime minister Gilbert Houngbo has since denied they want to re-enter the tournament.

The event’s organisers have been largely silent on the matter but a CAF official told reporters this afternoon that if Togo are not on the pitch come kick-off tonight, they will be out of the competition.

“Togo have not taken official steps to come back and play the African Nations Cup,” he said. “We have just heard this rumour in the press.

“The referee has received the order to blow the starting whistle and if the Togolese players are not there, they will have lost the match and will be disqualified.”

With the match scheduled to kick-off at 2030 GMT and the team currently back in Togo, their elimination from the tournament is now more or less official.

Despite conflicting reports, it had seemed unlikely that the team would return to the country where Friday’s tragedy occurred – something which was confirmed by the Togolese prime minister today.

Houngbo told the BBC: “I do believe there is confusion. The information you have got, I’m afraid, might not be the most accurate.

“We have simply withdrawn our team, it is not a matter of withdrawing for the mourning period.

“The information that has been circulated on some websites saying the players are just back for three days’ mourning and will then go back playing is quite wrong.

“We withdrew our team on the basis they have been the victim of a terrorist attack.”

Houngbo has also hit out at the way Togo have been treated by CAF, insisting the decision to withdraw was not made in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, but after support from the tournament organisers proved non-forthcoming.

He added: “Management did not give us enough assurance. We would leave our team being exposed to similar risks. Therefore we decided to pull our team out of the competition against our will.

“We would have hoped that one could have serene discussion with the host country, with the confederation, to assess what has happened, assess what one has to do.

“We received no co-operation from the confederation in terms of any kind of assessment.

“Our analysis is that they want it [the shooting] to be seen as a non-event and the show must go on as planned; there mustn’t be an official change and Togo is causing problems to the festival.”

The Togo team returned to their home country yesterday after apparently agonising over whether to stay in Angola or not.

At first they were reportedly keen to leave but then considered staying on after a team meeting.

In the end, the decision was made for them by their government and Houngbo insisted there was no option.

He said: “What if something happened again? What is our responsibility? It is a matter of taking seriously the safety of our people.

“It is not my pleasure we withdraw. We don’t want to play into the hands of the terrorists, but we have a responsibility to protect our people.”

Angolan police today announced they had arrested two people in relation to the attack.

Prosecutors in the troubled Cabinda province where the shooting took place said two members of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda forces, or FLEC, were captured yesterday.

FLEC released a statement on Saturday strongly denying any responsibility for the attack which has been claimed by an splinter group of their organisation - Military Position of FLEC (FLEC-MP).

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