Drogba 'mentally unfit to play' after terror attack
Ivory Coast's captain 'is struggling to come to terms' with Togo bus atrocity
Didier Drogba was described yesterday as in the "wrong state of mind" to play in the African Nations Cup by one of the survivors of the terrorist attack on the Togo team bus in Angola that left three dead.
In the aftermath of the attack, Drogba, the Ivory Coast captain, spoke to the Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor and that conversation was related to the rest of the Togo team, who yesterday withdrew from the Nations Cup and flew out of Angola under orders from their nation's prime minister. Adebayor's Togo team-mate Alaixys Romao, who plays for the French Ligue 1 club Grenoble, said: "There was a long discussion between Drogba and Adebayor. Drogba said he was fully aware of the psychological state that the Togo squad was in, and he too was not ready to play in this African Nations Cup."
Drogba will, in all likelihood, have no choice but to play after Ivory Coast, who face Burkina Faso today, came under intense pressure from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to stay in the tournament. The competition was plunged into disarray by Friday's attack on the Togo team who, having overturned their original decision to withdraw, were ordered home by the Prime Minister, Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo.
In an interview with the French newspaper L'Equipe, Romao also said that there would have been a different reaction if a bigger nation than Togo had been attacked. "If it had been Ivory Coast or Cameroon; or if [Samuel] Eto'o or Drogba had taken a bullet, the competition would have been stopped immediately."
Drogba could not be contacted by his representatives in London yesterday but he is understood to be in Angola with the rest of the Ivory Coast squad. His Chelsea team-mate Michael Essien has flown to Angola to join up with the Ghana squad today.
Adebayor told a French radio station yesterday that the Togo team had decided to stay and play in the tournament before the order came from Houngbo. It is understood that Manchester City are sending a plane to pick him up from Lome, the capital of Togo.
The club do not yet know whether he will be eligible to play for them against Everton on Saturday, given that Togo have effectively defied Fifa.
Describing his feelings during the attack, Adebayor said: "On Friday, we were all dead on that bus. We sent our last messages to our families. We called to say our last words. I told myself: 'If you're still there on the ground in Angola, why not play?' The authorities decided we should return home, so we will."
In a press conference in Lome, Houngbo said: "We took into account the players' change of mind. In remembering those who lost their lives we also need to take into account what the families think is the best way to pay tribute to them. That does not overtake the importance of security, and security is non-negotiable.
"So far we have not had a single call, even a call of sympathy from CAF. We don't even have information that will allow us to assess security. It would be irresponsible of us to pretend nothing had happened; that the show must go on."
While the governments of Namibia and Botswana have proposed that their national teams replace Togo, the favoured plan is to proceed with just three teams in Group B: Ghana, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Ivory Coast's Bosnian coach, Vahid Halilhodzic, said: "Everybody here is confused and scared, but we want to play because we don't want to surrender to terrorists. But I'm not scared because the army and police are all around. We're surrounded by them and there's almost no contact with the outside world.
"The players are a bit scared, but not me. I had good training - I lived through much worse things in Mostar [he was shot in the conflict in Bosnia]."
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