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Barcelona's Keita calls for Togo ban to be lifted

By Phil Minshull
BBC Sport, Spain

Mali's Seydou Keita
Keita wants Caf to reconsider its four year ban on Togo's football team

Mali and Barcelona midfielder Seydou Keita has called on the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to reconsider their sanctions against Togo.

Caf banned Togo from the next two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and fined them $50,000 for withdrawing from the Nations cup in Angola.

But Keita says Caf need to take the circumstances in the consideration.

"I hope they lift the sanctions because it is unjust. The players went to Angola to play, not to die," he said.

Two members of the Togolese delegation were killed in an armed attack on the team bus as they made their way to their base in Cabinda.

After the attack the Togolese Prime Minister sent a plane to bring the players home.

Caf said it regards this as government interference and decided to ban Togo for four years.

But in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Keita revealed that the Mali players also considered pulling out after the attack.

"Our first reaction was to go home," he said.

"Not only because it seemed like dangerous situation, but also because our companions had died. We saw the pictures on television. It was a terrible shock.

"We wanted to [leave] but when Ivory Coast, Ghana and Burkina Faso, who were in Togo's group, decided to participate, we had to play," added Keita.

Keita said all the players were scared of the situation and the fact that they were always followed by armed guards didn't help matters.

"We were escorted everywhere by trucks with soldiers, several motorcycles on either side of the bus and other military vehicles. Every time we climbed into a coach to go to training or matches, they were was with us."

Despite Mali being eliminated after the first round, Keita's performance in their three matches earned him a place among the substitutes in the CAF team of the tournament.

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see also
Togo given Africa Nations Cup ban
30 Jan 10 |  African
Togo timeline
11 Jan 10 |  African
Keshi sacked as Mali boss
28 Jan 10 |  African
Mali 3-1 Malawi
18 Jan 10 |  African

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