Page last updated at 09:17 GMT, Sunday, 10 January 2010

Togo 'will play in Africa Cup of Nations'

Players in shock after the attack (video grab)
Togolese officials had said the team would return because it was in shock

Togo's football team has decided to play in the Africa Cup of Nations, even though the government withdrew it after a deadly attack on Friday, players say.

Thomas Dossevi told the AFP news agency the players wanted to stay in Angola to honour the three people who were killed when rebels fired on their bus.

L'Equipe quoted Alaixys Romao as saying the team would not leave like cowards.

But a spokesman for Togo's government told AFP news agency it was standing by its decision to call the team home.

Togo has demanded Angola explain why it was not warned of the dangers of travel in Cabinda, where the bus was ambushed.

Angolan officials had earlier expressed astonishment that the team had travelled there by road from their base in the Republic of Congo.

'Unanimous decision'

On Saturday, government spokesman Pascal Bodjona said Togo's players were returning home because they were in a state of shock.

"We cannot in such a dramatic circumstance continue in the Africa Cup of Nations," he told reporters.

He reiterated that message on Sunday, saying: "The government is maintaining its decision to call the team back home."

Manchester City, the club of Togo's captain, Emmanuel Adebayor, had already said on its website that he was returning to the UK - and reports suggest he still wants to leave.

But following a late-night meeting on Saturday, two players said the team was determined to stay.

"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," said Thomas Dossevi.

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

Oil-rich province cut off from the rest of Angola by DR Congo
Flec rebels fought for region's independence
Rebels laid down arms in 2006 but some unrest continues
Angola had dismissed concerns about staging games there

Alaixys Romao also said the decision had been unanimous.

"We have just had a meeting of the whole delegation and we will be on the pitch on Monday to face Ghana," he said.

"People have died for the Africa Cup of Nations, others have been injured. We can't let them down and leave like cowards," he added.

"If we stay here it's for them, but also not to give any satisfaction to the rebels. Our government does not necessarily agree with us but we are all determined to play this competition."

Meanwhile, Kodzo Samlan, a spokesman for the tournament organisers, the Confederation of African Football (Caf), said he had spoken to Togo's players and "they confirmed they want to play".

Mr Samlan said Caf was still waiting for official confirmation from Togo's government.

Caf had earlier said it understood Togo's withdrawal, but that the six other matches scheduled to be played in Cabinda would go ahead.

Security guarantee

In Friday's attack, several gunmen opened fire on the Togo team bus shortly after it had crossed from the Republic of Congo into the enclave of Cabinda.

Angolan police escort the Ivory Coast football team in Cabinda (9 Jan 2010)
Angola has increased security for all teams and at all venues

Adebayor told the BBC the players and support staff were trapped on the bus for 30 minutes as Angolan police fought the attackers. They eventually had to flee under fire to get into the vehicles sent to rescue them, he said.

Togolese officials said the driver had died at the scene, while media officer Stanislas Ocloo and assistant coach Amalete Abalo died later in hospital.

The separatist rebel Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Flec), which has fought for independence for several decades but entered into a ceasefire in 2006, later claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Angolan government, which had hoped the tournament would show how well it had recovered from the fighting, called the incident an "act of terrorism".

CAF president Issa Hayatou said he had received a guarantee that security would be increased for all teams and at all venues.

The bi-annual Africa Cup of Nations begins with the hosts playing Mali in Luanda at 1900 GMT.

Venue and dates: Angola, 10-31 January Coverage: Final and semi-finals live on BBC TV, BBC World Service and commentaries on BBC Sport website. Live commentary on opening match on BBC World Service and BBC Sport website

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CNN Togo departing Africa Cup of Nations - 1 hr ago
Bangkok PostTwo held in Angola after Togo attack - 5 hrs ago
Business Day Shell-shocked Togo leaves as Africa Cup opens - 12 hrs ago
China Post Togo makes a dramatic u-turn about African Cup - 15 hrs ago
CHINAdaily Togo team wants to play in Angola despite attack - L'Equipe - 17 hrs ago
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