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Chaos and Tragedy Strike The African Cup Of Nations

The news started coming through early on Saturday morning and as the information became clearer, it was soon apparent that the whole African Cup Of Nations would now be tainted. When the dust had settled, 3 members of the Togo party were dead and several were seriously injured. Angolan rebels had attacked the team bus as it drove through the dangerous territory of Cabinda. It is no exaggeration to say that it is a miracle that no-one else was killed.

As of now, the Togolese team have now been pulled out by the Togo government and are awaiting a flight back to the capital Lome. After the initial attack, the team were unanimous in their decision that they wanted to pull out, but after discussions yesterday, the team wanted to continue in the competition to honour the dead members of the party. The Togolese government however had other ideas.

With second choice goalkeeper Dodji Obilale airlifted to South Africa for treatment for his injuries, the government feel it would be inappropriate to continue. CAF, the African Confideration, were determined to keep Togo in, but in all honesty, I found it quite galling that the team seemed to be getting pressure to stay in the competition. I understand the teams wishes that they would like to stay to use this incident but I don’t feel that after this, anyone’s mind will be on football in the Togo camp.

There are so many questions that need to be answered, why were they allowed to drive through a known Angolan rebel enclave? Why did no-one know they were going to drive, rather than fly as all the other teams did? Why didn’t they have an escort? It is such a mess of miscommunication and bad organisation that as I said, how no-one else died is a miracle. The team bus was sprayed with machine gun fire for almost half an hour until the rebels ran off.

Emanuel Adebayor, as team captain , has led the interviews with everyone since the tragedy and was instrumental in the decision that saw the team decide they wished to continue as a mark of respect. Yet, no-one can understand what it must be like to survive such a thing and then be expected to play football. It is only a game.

Of course, this now, quite rightly throws doubt on the security of the whole tournament. The Rebel group responsible, Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda or FLEC, have promised that this is only the beginning of an orchestrated campaign that has been planned to coincide with the African Cup Of Nations. The critics who questioned the wisdom of awarding the competition to Angola in the first place will be quick to point out that concerns were raised 4 years ago. This, they say, was a disaster waiting to happen.

Worries that this could impact on South Africa are wide of the mark, Angola is 1500 miles away. It is like comparing a tragedy in Norway having an impact in Italy. It has no merit for comparison. If anything, this will now strengthen the resolve for South Africa to be on the ball throughout the build up to the tournament. Security of the fans and participants will now be crucial for the success of the competition and the future of African footballs position in the world game.

The tournament will continue tonight with Angola kicking off against Mali but it has certainly been tainted. The wisdom of continuing the tournament will be under scrutiny from here on in and everyone will be hoping that the tragedy will be the last incident in a dark day for African football. I truly hope everything else goes to plan.

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    January 11, 2010 at 12:33 am

    “It’s bugging me people keep bringing up the Olympics. What happened to those terrorists? They were either killed or captured.” as said by TheLaffer.
    So you mean they were all killed or captured are since then there were no terrorists attacks. Bad things happened always. So tell the FA to call EPL off because there is is bad weather which is dangerours to football supporters. Dont be selfish like that. A terror attack can happen anywhere in London, Paris, New Yok, Cairo, Moscow, Califonia etc. So stop your childish excuses.

  2. Simon Burke

    January 10, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Its sad that sports are more and more being targeted now for this sort of tragedy. The media will tie this to South Africa 2010 which is unfortunate but thats how they work. We had the Olympics in Germany, the recent cricket event in Pakistan and now this. I cant blame Togo for going home – had the event been in a month or 2 I’d say they should have played but with it being so close I can fully respect their withdrawal and hopefully the security is heavily stepped up and teams made aware of the risks so this doesnt happen again.

  3. Gunner JD

    January 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    I’m glad to see some coverage on this here, and to be honest with you, I was a bit suprised not to see something posted yesterday amid all the hooplah surrounding LD’s debut with the Toffees. It’s been well over a day since the tragic events in Cabinda, in fact I believe close to two, and I’m just saying it seems like the excitement surrounding Donovan could have been accompanied by paying some attention to this horrible story. I understand of course how big a deal his debut in England was, especially here in America, but doesn’t it seem as though priorities were maybe a little backwards?

    Yeah, I know I’m being critical, and maybe it isn’t deserved, but after seeing this post this morning, this is what occurred to me and I wanted to share this thought. But full credit to EPL Talk for covering it, as I’m sure you had planned to as soon as you heard about it.

  4. brn442

    January 10, 2010 at 11:27 am

    It’s shocking, less than a year after the Sri Lankan Cricket team was fired upon while also in their bus in Pakistan that in this day and age, with a country that only recently ended a long and brutal civil war that the organizers weren’t aware of the team’s itinerary (driving instead of flying) which obviously resulted in a lack of adequate security.

    To tie this to South Africa 2010 is a bit silly but hopefully they will learn something valuable of protecting potential “soft targets”

  5. Samuel Ore

    January 10, 2010 at 11:05 am

    It is extremely unfortunate that this incident happened at this point in time. It is better for CAF to shift the matches from danger zones. This Nations Cup MUST be a success despite the antics of the devil. Also, the African leaders must have a lasting solution to this problem on time before it gets out of hands. God bless Africa.

  6. Rob McCluskey

    January 10, 2010 at 9:45 am

    Ithink the Togo team should go home but the tournament should go on

    look at how many Olympic games get terrorist attacks or incidents, Togo are shaken up and shouldn’t have to be there but the best way to show the V’s to people that want to cause bother is to let the tournament go ahead anyway

    • TheLaffer

      January 10, 2010 at 10:13 am

      It’s bugging me people keep bringing up the Olympics. What happened to those terrorists? They were either killed or captured.

      In Togo you still have guys out there with machine guns who have said they are going to do it again. I find it shocking CAF would allow games to go on in Cabinda.

      This is football, you aren’t proving anything by playing in an unsafe environment. Just move the games to mainland Angola.

      • TheLaffer

        January 10, 2010 at 10:15 am

        And by Togo I meant Angola (Cabinda).

  7. Juan

    January 10, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Emanuel Adebayor confirmed in an interview with French radio that they were going home. I would understand their decision.

  8. Peter

    January 10, 2010 at 9:10 am

    What seems abundantly clear is how the newspapers have said this throws the World Cup into doubt. Angola is not South Africa. To assume that those two are the same is like you say comparing a crisis in Norway with happenings in Italy. The officials who decided South Africa could get the 2010 World Cup had to explain their decision, which I find quite bemusing really. In my opinion they made one of their greatest decisions ever in their history by deciding South Africa could host the World Cup, they don’t have to explain anything. No-one going to South Africa in the summer to watch their country play will be expected to drive past known violent areas such as Kabinda. It was a cock-up by a few people which impacted on many people.

    Trying to get FIFA to explain their decision is both feeble minded and extremely racist. We all think that we have it bad because we get covered in snow, but how do you many thousands of Zimbabweans, Sudanese and many more feel. Stuck in poverty with no way out. Lord knows they could do with something to cheer about, even if they won’t be able to watch the games in the stadiums.

    Like I said, when Nelson Mandela, holds up the trophy to the winning team, after a succesful World Cup, we will know that FIFA have made the right decision.

    Long Live Africa!

  9. Civrock

    January 10, 2010 at 9:02 am

    The Togo team decided to play in honor of the dead but AP just reported that their government recalled them and that they won’t play in the Cup. Reports have been going back and forth about their participation.

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