BBC Sport football


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 15:49 GMT, Saturday, 6 March 2010

Togo goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale set for France return

By Piers Edwards
BBC Sport, Johannesburg

Togo goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale
Togo goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale is ready to return to France

Kodjovi Obilale will return to France next week after two months in a Johannesburg hospital recovering from wounds sustained in the fatal attack on Togo's bus in Angola.

The reserve goalkeeper took a bullet in his lower back during the January attack which left two Togolese administrators dead and prompted the Hawks' exit from the Africa Cup of Nations.

"Obilale is going back to France in the next 3-4 days as the arrangements are now in place to get him there," Professor Ken Boffard, who has overseen Obilale's recovery, told BBC Sport.

Despite earlier pledges, Angola's government declined to pay for Obilale's repatriation - prompting the French federation (FFF) to step in to fund the costs.

Obilale made Togo's Nations Cup squad despite playing in the French fourth division with Pontivy, whose president slammed Angolan organisers last month for reneging on their 'promises'.

The 25-year-old was shot by separatist rebels as they attacked the Togo team convoy in the northern enclave of Cabinda on 8 January, two days before the Nations Cup began.

And though the AK47 bullet made an entry hole estimated to be nearly two inches in diameter by Professor Boffard, Obilale has made good progress.

"He's had a terrible injury from a particularly unpleasant weapon and it's a tribute to his fitness that he's got as far as he has," said Boffard, who says his patient is lucky to be alive.

Obilale, who has undergone four separate surgical interventions, is still unable to move around without assistance and uses a wheelchair to travel short distances.

"He's been in bed for quite a while so is much weaker than when he started," explained Boffard, who heads the trauma unit at Obilale's Milpark Hospital.

"Although he can move his limbs, one leg better than the other, he's a little too weak to get up and go to the toilet by himself.

"We now have to build up his strength before we can say how much full movement there will be and whether there's any residual disability."

Had the bullet - which was already breaking up when it hit Obilale after tearing through the bus frame - been a few inches higher, doctors say the Togolese would be disabled.

But it hit the small of the back, where the spinal nerves are no longer a cord but fan out like a horse's tail, meaning it's still too early to say how many were injured nor if any were crucial.

Until this key imponderable becomes clear, it's impossible to say whether the goalkeeper can ever return to professional football.

"My guess is this will take at least six months before we have any idea of where he's going - after he's been through physiotherapy," adds Boffard.

"Should he ever be able to play football again, it's fair to say this is unlikely to happen for another 18 months at least."

Obilale, who underwent an operation on Monday to repair his damaged bowel, must not just overcome his physical injuries but his mental ones as well.

"What I experience at night in my sleep is horrible - I see the soldiers and am going to war as I go to the Cup," he told a French radio station last month.

And he went on to make an appeal to take him back to France, after the Angolans refused to pay his repatriation costs, which the FFF have ultimately picked up.

"As the host nation, Angola promised to pick up the bills but nothing has been done," Pontivy president Philippe Le Mestre told news agency AFP last month.

Obilale has been joined at his bedside by his partner and sister, whose South African stay has been funded by Manchester City striker and Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor.

Print Sponsor

see also
France FA pay for Obilale return
26 Feb 10 |  African
Thousands protest at Togo Cup ban
06 Feb 10 |  African
Togo 'picked on' by Caf - Salifou
04 Feb 10 |  African
Keita wants rethink of Togo ban
04 Feb 10 |  African
I thought we would die - Salifou
04 Feb 10 |  African
Togo given Africa Nations Cup ban
30 Jan 10 |  African
Adebayor describes shooting horror
08 Jan 10 |  African

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.