Togo ‘will play’ in the Africa Cup of Nations

Kieran Beckles
By Kieran Beckles

togo team bus attack

It has been announced that Togo will participate in the Africa Cup of Nations to honour those who died in the dramatic machine gun attack last Friday afternoon.

This is against the wishes of the Togolese government who called for the players to return home today.

In the dramatic ambush on Friday several gunmen opened fire on the team bus after it had crossed from the Republic of Congo into the enclave of Cabinda. Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor told reporters that the squad and staff were stuck on the bus for 30 minutes as Angolan police fought the gunmen.

The bus driver, a team spokesman and the assistant manager were all killed in the assault while eight players were also injured.

Originally it was thought that the Togo players would refuse to take part in the tournament and return home to their respective clubs. A statement issued by the Togo government on Friday reinforced this belief.

In addition, some of the players appeared to suggest that they would not be participating in the tournament.

The squad and officials met yesterday and discussed the matter. It now appears the players have experienced a change of heart and are prepared to defy the wishes of their government and resume their place in the tournament.

Midfielder Alaixys Romao spoke to L’Equipe yesterday, saying: “People died for this tournament, others were injured. We can’t abandon them and leave like cowards, if we stay here, it’s for them. But also so as not to give satisfaction to the rebels.”

The player, who is employed by French club Grenoble, added: “Our government doesn’t necessarily agree with us but we are determined to play in this competition. The decision was taken unanimously.”

The government have maintained that with the death of three people and with one player still in intensive care, the team should exit the tournament for their own safety.

Should Togo remain in Angola for the competition, they will face Ghana in their first Group B match on Monday.

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