Togo's plea for re-entry rejected

CAF refuses to reschedule matches as crisis-hit team offer to return to competition

Togo's non-participation in the African Nations Cup was finally confirmed yesterday as the Confederation of African Football (CAF) declined their request to reschedule games.

Although Togo flew home on Sunday night after their Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo had insisted the team could not play while the goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale lay in intensive care in a Johannesburg hospital following Friday's terrorist attack, the country's sports minister, Christophe Tchou, had said they would be looking to return following a three-day period of mourning.

That would have involved a major rejig of the tournament schedule and, given the sacrifices other teams would have had to make and the effect on television rights, it never seemed a realistic option. It is even possible that Tchou was responding to Emmanuel Adebayor's comment that the players had wanted to play on but had been forced to withdraw by the government; by making the suggestion, Tchou was effectively placing responsibility for Togo's non-participation on the CAF, rather than the government.

Even within the Togolese administration there seemed to be disagreement, with Houngbo effectively contradicting Tchou by insisting the team had withdrawn not out of respect for the three people killed in the attack, but because of concerns over the squad's safety. "Our decision to withdraw the team is really based on the security consideration," Houngbo said, "and what we believe is a mismanagement of what happened." He said his concerns had been "totally disregarded" by both CAF and officials within Angola.

"We had hoped we could have a calm discussion with the host country, with the confederation, to assess what has happened, assess what to do. We received no cooperation from the confederation in terms of any kind of assessment. Our analysis is that they want it [the attack] to be seen as a non-event and the show must go on as planned; there mustn't be an official change and Togo is causing problems to the festival."

There remains the possibility that Togo could return to Angola to play a memorial game, although what form that might take, who would be involved or where it would be played remains unclear. In Togo, church services have been held for the two Togolese victims, a press officer and the team's assistant coach, while flags are flying at half mast.

Chelsea's striker Didier Drogba insisted yesterday – before his Ivory Coast side's 0-0 draw with Burkina Faso – that the tournament must continue, even though the machine gun attack on the Togo team bus had left everyone "shattered". "We are ready," Drogba added, "but the events of Friday have left us shattered. I have spoken with Emmanuel Adebayor and it was a difficult situation for them.

"We have to show solidarity with them, though, and support the decision they have taken. We are all sad to see them leave the biggest competition for African players, but that is life."

Angolan authorities confirmed yesterday that they had arrested two men suspected of involvement in the attack on Sunday evening.

A spokesman for the army described a search of the forest near Massabi for members of FLEC, the separatist organisation that claimed responsibility for the attacks. "The two elements of FLEC were captured at the scene of the incident, the road to Massabi that connects both countries," the provincial prosecutor, Antonio Nito, told Angolan radio.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Agile Tester

£28000 - £30000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: An ambitious...

Senior SAP MM Consultant, £50,000 - £60,000, Birmingham

£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Senior SAP MM C...

SAP BW BO

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW BO - 6 MONTHS - LONDON London (Gr...

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried