Confusion reigns over Togo’s participation in the African Cup of Nations following the Prime Minister’s insistence that the team return home despite the players’ willingness to play in the tournament.
Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo said the national team must return to Togo and not compete in Africa’s biggest football tournament after two of its delegation were killed when the team bus was ambushed by separatists.
“If a team or some people present themselves under the Togolese flag, it will be a false representation,” he said.
Captain Emmanuel Adebayor said: “We will do what the government asks us to do. If their decision is that we have to come back home, we will come back home – and it seems that we will.”
A player and a Togo official in Angola had insisted earlier that the team would play in the tournament, which began yesterday..
“Togo are staying in the competition. I have called the players and they want to play. We are now awaiting official confirmation from the Togolese government,” said Kodzo Samlan, general secretary of the Togo soccer federation and a press officer for the Confederation of African Football.
He added that Adebayor was with the team in Angola’s Cabinda enclave. His club Manchester City had said on Saturday that the striker was leaving the country.
The team’s media officer Stanislas Ocloo and assistant coach Amalete Abalo were killed along with the bus driver. Seven people were wounded including reserve goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale, who is in a stable condition in a South African hospital after surgery.
Early indications yesterday were that the players had determined to be ready for their first Group B match today, and witnesses saw the team practicing yesterday morning.
“We have just had a meeting of the whole delegation and we will be on the pitch on Monday to face Ghana,” Tidesports source quoted midfielder Alaixys Romao as saying.
“People have died for the African Nations Cup, others have been injured. We can’t let them down and leave like cowards,” said Romao, who plays for French club side Grenoble.
“Our government does not necessarily agree with us but we are all determined to play this competition.”
Angola has spent $1 billion (£700m) building stadiums, roads and hotels for the competition, which brings together Africa’s best national teams. The bi-ennial tournament, which lasts until January 31, will be broadcast live around the world.
The African Cup of Nations started with fireworks and champagne at a massive stadium in the capital Luanda, where the hosts played Mali in the opening match yesterday.
But Friday’s attack on the Togo team, staged by the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda which the government said recently no longer existed, cast a shadow over an event supposed to show Angola was at peace after years of civil war.
Security analysts said the ambush showed how easily insurgents can grab world headlines.
Cabinda, the scene of FLEC attacks even after Angola’s 27-year civil war ended in 2002, provides half the oil output of Angola, which rivals Nigeria as Africa’s biggest producer.
It was the second militant attack on a sports team in less than a year. Last March, six policemen and a driver were killed when gunmen attacked a bus carrying Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Pakistan.
Friday’s assault raised questions about security for the soccer World Cup taking place in South Africa in June, but organisers of that event dismissed any comparisons. South Africa is the first African nation to hold the world’s biggest single-sport event.
Security analysts said outsiders involved in the World Cup are unlikely to ignore the Angolan attack and will want to review South Africa’s security preparations.
South African President Jacob Zuma attended yesterday’s opening ceremony despite the attack.
Cabinda, wedged between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo, is due to host seven matches.
Iyalo D King Cup: Obidianso FC Emerges Champions
Obidianso Street FC of Port Harcourt has emerged winners of this year’s edition of Iyalo D King, 4 Aside football tournaments at the Amanakana football Stadium, Diobu, on Sunday, in Port Harcourt.
Speaking with journalists, after the finals match, the Chief sponsor of the competition, Victor Fubara, said the tournament was to sustain the existing peace and unity among the youths in Diobu axis of Port Harcourt.
He noted that there were a lot of talents in the area which needed help, saying that, with the competition a lot of hidden talents has been discovered and they will be exposed to the world of football.
“I want to use this competition to change the narrative about the youths of Diobu in Port Harcourt.
I want to tell you that there is peace and unity among the youths in the area.
You can see joy and happiness on the faces of the people watching the game.
My main purpose of organizing this tournament is to foster the existing peace and unity, also to pass a massage to the outside world that what they think about Diobu is different, “ Fubara stated.
Fubara who is popularly known as Diayo, revealed that he brought some scouts to select some good players.
“I personally just want to do it for them,” he said.
He used the medium to call on the Government to support his agenda and programme in terms of youth empowerment in different areas.
“My message to the youths is to stop violence and embrace peace,” he stated.
At the end of the finals, Obidianso Street FC defeated Awgu Street FC 2-1 on penalty shootout after playing goalless draw in regulation time.
By: Kiadum Edookor
Kano Pillars To Pay N5m Fine Over Covid-19 Protocol
Kano Pillars have been charged for breaching the NPFL Framework and Rules, following the infraction in their Matchday 27 fixture vs Akwa Utd at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna last Sunday.
The Kano club has been charged for breaching the Covid-19 Protocol by admitting and/or permitting spectators and supporters into the venue.
Pillars are also charged for encroachment after their supporters encroached onto the field of play, thereby disrupting the match.
The club is further charged for failing to provide adequate security leading to failure in crowd control and restriction of access by unauthorised persons to restricted areas.
In line with The Nigeria Football Federation directives, Kano Pillars are hereby sanctioned with a fine of N5 million for breaching the Covid-19 Protocol.
A fine of N2.5 million is also imposed on Kano Pillars for encroachment by their supporters, which led to a discontinuation of the match.
There is also an imposed sanction of a deduction of 3 points, which shall be suspended for the duration of the remainder of the season, subject to good conduct.
The club also faces a venue sanction of being banned from their Kaduna home ground and subsequently moved to another venue if there is a recurring event.
Kano Pillars have been directed to submit a revised security plan within 7 days and ensure they comply strictly with Covid-19 Protocol. All subject to approval by the LMC.
The club, however, has 48 hours from the date of notice to appeal these sanctions.
Super Falcons Have So Much To Offer – Oshoala
Asisat Oshoala is proud of Super Falcons’ spirited second-half performance against the Portuguese last Monday.
The African women’s champions came back twice to force the Europeans to a 3-3 draw at their second Group game in the ongoing National 2021 WNT Summer Series at the BBVA Stadium.
Reacting to the result, the Barcelona Femino striker, hailed the fighting spirit and said the team had so much potential.
I am proud of everyone. We were two goals down and then 3-2 in the 88th minute and we did it. I want to say this is just the beginning.
“We have so much in this team. We don’t even know what we have, people out there kept cheering us when we had the ball because we kept on pushing. That’s the spirit!” she said.
Following the thrilling six-goal match, the Super Falcons will head to Austin yesterday for today’s final match against the United States at the Q2 Stadium as Jamaica and Portugal bid the Summer Series farewell after two games.
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