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Page last updated at 14:24 GMT, Monday, 25 January 2010

Caf president Issa Hayatou defiant over Togo attack

By Piers Edwards
BBC Sport, Luanda, Angola

Togo players carry the coffin of deputy national coach Abalo Amelete
The attack on the Togo team bus has overshadowed the tournament

The Confederation of African Football (Caf) will never give in to "terrorism", the ruling body's president Issa Hayatou has said.

The Cameroonian was speaking to assembled media for the first time since an attack on Togo's team bus killed two of their delegation as well as an Angolan driver, while Togo goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale continues to recover in hospital.

The incident on 8 January came just 48 hours before the Africa Cup of Nations kicked off in Angola, prompting Togo's withdrawal from the competition.

"Terrorism will never have the upper hand over our activities," said Hayatou.

"They can behave how they want but we will never accept this."

"It's not the first time this type of drama has happened for 11 Israeli athletes were murdered in Germany at the 1972 Olympics - but did they stop the Games?

"The Nations Cup is a symbol for the African continent," he asserted.

Togo goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale
Togo goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale is still being treated for his injuries

The attack also left Obilale seriously injured, with gunshot wounds to the lower back and abdomen.

The goalkeeper says he feels he is akin to "a miracle" after surviving the attack.

The 25-year-old is still recovering in Johannesburg, where he has been treated since the shooting.

Despite warnings of potential trouble in the oil-rich province of Cabinda, where the rebel group Front for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda (Flec) seeks independence, Hayatou said he had no regrets in staging the Nations Cup in Angola.

"Why would we regret bringing the competition here?" the 63-year-old asked.

"What happened with Togo happened outside the city of Cabinda - nothing happened in the perimeter of the city, which the Angolan government put at our disposal."

Caf president Issa Hayatou
Do you want us to tell the Angolan government to stop the tournament because a little group put out a release?

Caf president Issa Hayatou

The incident took place shortly after the Togolese team entered the northern part of Cabinda province by road from their base in Congo.

Hayatou, who has held his post since 1988, also confirmed that Caf had received a note threatening trouble from a Switzerland-based group claiming to represent Flec, which has been widely credited with the attack.

"Do you want us to tell the Angolan government to stop the tournament because a little group put out a release?" he said.

The Cameroonian, whose body passed the "missive" onto Angolan authorities, also cited Fifa's handling of threats prior to last year's Under-17 World Cup in Nigeria.

"Fifa received threats in Nigeria from a rebel group but did they suspend the competition? No - and I went there despite the threats," he explained.

In the aftermath of Togo's withdrawal, after Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo recalled his players despite their reported desire to stay, Caf officials were quoted as saying the Hawks had been disqualified.

"We did not disqualify them - we simply noted their departure," Hayatou clarified.

"We wished they would have stayed but respect their decision to leave."

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see also
Second group admits Togo attack
12 Jan 10 |  Africa
Togo funerals after Angola attack
15 Jan 10 |  Africa
Togo's Nations Cup exit confirmed
11 Jan 10 |  African
Optimism to horror after Togo attack
09 Jan 10 |  Africa
Three die in Togo football attack
09 Jan 10 |  Africa
New head appointed for Togo FA
03 Jan 10 |  African
Africa Cup of Nations fixtures
07 Jan 10 |  African
Africa Cup of Nations tables
07 Jan 10 |  African

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