the terrorist attack on the Togo football team and its aftermath, from the January 9
. The original article has several photographs worth seeing. It passes belief that athletes were sent into the middle of a civil war.
Premier League clubs are trying to pull their players out of the Africa Cup of Nations after the terrorist attack on the Togo team coach in Angola left at least three people dead.
The Togo players, including 25million pound Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor and Aston Villa’s Moustapha Salifou, have announced their withdrawal from the tournament, despite pleas from the Togo FA, and were due to fly out last night.
Manchester City captain Kolo Toure was also discussing with his Ivory Coast team-mates whether to withdraw, and was said to be ‘nervous’ and ‘anxious’ about his continued participation.
Adebayor was sitting yards away from the Togo assistant coach and Press officer when they were killed in the machine-gun attack along with the team’s Angolan coach driver.
There were fears that seriously injured goalkeeper Dodo Obilale, of French amateur club GSI Pontivy, had also died, although other reports suggested he had been flown to Johannesburg for treatment.
Another 24 players from English clubs remain in Angola but there are calls for them to return home, even if FIFA continue with the competition, which is due to start today in the capital Luanda with a match between Angola and Mali.
Adebayor’s horror as Togo team-mates die in machine-gun bus ambush
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Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, whose club have Danny Shittu representing Nigeria, said: ‘The players should be brought home as safety is paramount. We are concerned because one of our players is there and I am sure other Premier League clubs feel the same.
‘You hear about attacks like this on the TV news and you worry about it when it’s close to you. I think anyone in that situation would want to get home as soon as possible.’
Sources at Manchester City said Toure, of the Ivory Coast, is anxious to return to England, while Sunderland manager Steve Bruce expects his Ghanaian player, John Mensah, to come back within the next 48 hours citing a hamstring injury.
Ghana, who feature Chelsea’s Michael Essien, are due to open their campaign tomorrow in Cabinda, the province where the atrocity occurred, but are reported to be on the verge of a walk-out unless they are switched to Luanda.
FIFA have drawn up plans to protect Chelsea’s Drogba, Essien and Salomon Kalou, and Arsenal’s Emmanuel Eboue by housing them in military barracks. But players are not insured against acts of terrorism so Premier League clubs could use that as a reason to ensure they do not stay.
At a Togo team meeting yesterday, Adebayor, Salifou and others not injured in the outrage decided to quit the tournament.
Salifou said: ‘We can’t play in these circumstances and want to leave as soon as possible.’
He said gunmen had opened fire on the bus 15 minutes after it crossed into Angola from their pre-tournament training camp in Congo.
‘The driver was shot and died instantly, so we were just stopped on the road with nowhere to go,’ added Salifou.
‘Our security people saved us. They were in two separate cars, about 10 of them returned fire. The shooting lasted for half an hour and I could hear the bullets whistling past me. It was like a movie.
‘I know I am lucky. I was in the back of the coach with Adebayor and one of the goalkeepers.
‘A defender who sat in front of me took two shots in the back. The goalkeeper Dodo Obilale, one of my best friends, was shot in the chest and stomach and I heard he has been flown to South Africa to undergo an operation to save his life.
‘It was horrific. Everybody was crying. I couldn’t stay in control of myself and I cried when I saw the injuries to my friend. I don’t know how anyone could do this. None of us can play football now.’
The Confederation of African Football are said to want to keep Group B, minus Togo, in Cabinda despite Ghana’s protests.
But the attack will spark fears about South Africa hosting the World Cup this summer. Experts in African affairs say it proved how those who want to wreak havoc on international events can do so with small arms.
Rodrigues Mingas, a representative of a splinter group of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), which claimed responsibility for Friday’s ambush, insisted that more attacks could follow.
‘CAF had been warned several times that the territory was at war,’ he said. ‘This is just the start of a series of planned actions that will continue in the whole territory of Cabinda.’
The FA spokesman are in consultation with the Premier League and League Managers’ Association, adding: ‘We’ll do all we can to ensure the welfare and safety of PL players in Angola.’