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Page last updated at 22:31 GMT, Saturday, 9 January 2010

Togo government tells team to quit Cup of Nations

Africa Cup of Nations
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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Stunned Togo players in disbelief after attack

Togo's footballers are being recalled from the Africa Cup of Nations by their government following a deadly attack on the team's bus in Angola.

An assistant coach, press officer and driver were killed. Two players were shot and injured in Friday's attack.

The Angolan government and tournament officials had been pressing Togo to stay for their group games in Cabinda.

Togo government minister Pascal Bodjona said the team was coming home because the players were in a state of shock.

He added: "We cannot in such a dramatic circumstance continue in the Africa Cup of Nations."

Togo were due to play Ghana in their opening match on Monday. Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso are the other teams in Group B.

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) said late on Satuday that it understood Togo's decision but that the six other matches scheduled to be played in Cabinda would go ahead as planned.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Peter Scrivener

Angola's prime minister Paulo Kassoma met with African football officials in Luanda to offer reassurances on the safety of the players on the eve of the tournament.

"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," his office said in a statement.

But his efforts were in vain, with the Togolese government later telling its team to leave Angola.

Earlier, Togo coach Hubert Velud told French radio station RMC that he thought consideration should be given to cancelling the entire tournament.

"We can at least pose that question," he said. "It's an act of barbarism while we are here to celebrate African football."

In an interview with a French radio station, Togo's first-choice goalkeeper, Kossi Agassa, said none of his team wanted to remain in the tournament.

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

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

CABINDA
Map
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

Aston Villa's Togolese midfielder Moustapha Salifou was thankful for the presence of the security team after he emerged unscathed from the incident, which happened after the team had entered Angola from neighbouring Congo, but he said he felt lucky to be alive.

He told Villa's website: "Our security people saved us. They were in two cars, about 10 of them in total, and they returned fire.

"The shooting lasted for half an hour and and I could hear the bullets whistling past me. It was like a movie.

"It was only 15 minutes after we crossed the border into Angola that we came under heavy fire. The driver was shot almost immediately and died instantly so we were just stopped on the road with nowhere to go.

"I know I am really lucky. I was in the back of the coach with Emmanuel Adebayor and one of the goalkeepers. A defender sat in front of me took two shots in the back.

"The goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale Dodo, one of my best friends, was shot in the stomach and was flown to South Africa to undergo an operation to save his life.

"It was horrific. Everybody was crying. I don't know how anyone can do this.

"I am back at our camp in Cabinda with my team-mates but we all want to go home to Togo. We have made our decision. We can't play in these circumstances and want to leave for home.

"We don't want to compete in the tournament because our assistant manager and the press officer have been killed. As a team we have made this decision."

The Ivory Coast's team coach under heavy armed guard
The Ivory Coast's team bus had a heavy police guard on Saturday

Togo captain, and Manchester City striker, Adebayor, who was on the coach but also unharmed, has been told by his club that he will be given as much time as needs to recover from the attack.

Adebayor told BBC Afrique: "A lot of people would love to be in our position [as footballers] 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."

Defender Serge Akakpo, who plays for Romanian club Vaslui, was hit by two bullets and lost a lot of blood in the attack in oil-rich Cabinda.

His club reported that his condition was stabilised and he underwent successful surgery.

Reserve keeper Obilale, who plays for French club GSI Pontivy, was also seriously wounded and transferred to hospital in South Africa, while several other players required treatment.

"I don't think any of the players will be able to sleep after this," said Adebayor, who admitted they were all still in shock.

"You cannot sleep after what we have seen - one of your team-mates with bullets in his body in front of you, crying and losing consciousness. It is very difficult."

Caf spokesman Souleymane Habuba offered sympathy for the Togo team but questioned why they had travelled by road rather than flying to Angola.

"CAF's regulations are clear: teams are required to fly rather than travel by bus," he said.

Football's world governing body Fifa has expressed its concern about the attack.

"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 Caf and its president, Issa Hayatou, from which it expects a full report on the situation."



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