Togo will play in African Cup after deadly ambush
Togo has changed its mind and agreed to play in the African Cup of Nations, according to French sports daily L'Equipe on its website on Saturday — despite a call from Togo's government to return home following the deadly attack in Angola.
"The entire delegation just met and, after all, we'll be on the pitch Monday to play against Ghana," midfielder Alaixys Romao, who plays for French club Grenoble, was quoted as saying. Friday's attack killed an assistant coach, a team spokesperson and the Angolan bus driver, according to the team and the Togo government.
Angolan Information Minister Manuel Rabelais said Friday that eight team members and one Angolan were injured.
Togo forward Thomas Dossevi had told the Associated Press in a phone interview that it would pull out of the tournament and fly out of Angola early Sunday.
Efforts to reach a tournament spokesman and Dossevi by phone after the team changed its mind went unanswered.
"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," Romao reportedly said.
"Our government doesn't necessarily agree with us but we are determined to play in this competition. The decision was taken unanimously."
Africa's football championship was expected to open as planned on Sunday, even though other teams were shocked and worried by the ambush of the Togo bus as it entered Angola's restive, oil-rich Cabinda province.
"We have goosebumps … who knows what is going to happen to us," Amade Chababe, Mozambique assistant coach, told AP Television News when the squad passed through Johannesburg en route to Angola on Saturday.
Gunmen in an area in Angola plagued by separatist violence used machine-guns to open fire on the bus. Togo's bus, in a convoy from Congo, was about 10 kilometres across the border in Angola when it came under fire.