Goal.com takes a look at African Cup of Nations hopeful Togo, as the side attempts to win the continental prize for the first time.World cup appearances: 1 (Germany 2006)
AFCON Appearances: 3 (1972,1984 and 1998)
AFCON Titles: None
Affiliated to FIFA since 1960, Togo nicknamed Les Eperviers (The Sparrow Hawks), were surprise qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and although they failed to win a match, they were not disgraced, giving a good account of themselves and returning home with their heads held high.
Things have not gone all that well since they failed to reach the 2008 Nations Cup finals in Ghana. Their over-reliance on the form of star striker Emmanuel Adebayor often comes back to haunt them, especially when he is not firing up front. However they qualified for the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and are in a group which takes no prisoners.
They will come face to face with 2006 World Cup surprise rookies Ghana, Burkina Faso and the continents number one ranked team, Ivory Coast. Their qualification was not a walk in the park as they were termed the “underdogs”, but the side managed to overcome a poor start to finish top of their group, which included Senegal, Mali and Zambia.
They have never made it past the first round in their past three continental tournaments and they will be looking to change their own history books in Angola.
Road To Qualification
Their road to Angola was not an easy one, they did however do well to manage two wins in a group that included World Cup bound Cameroon and the underrated Gabon. A win against Gabon in the final match day secured their spot at the 2010 AFCON.
Hubert Velud No doubt the Sparrowhawks will be keen to return to winning ways under the tutelage of the Frenchman. Velud previously worked as a coach in France’s lower leagues and was appointed just 10 days before their game against Cameroon.
Dare Nibombe - The tough as nails skipper played in every match for Togo at the 2006 World Cup in Germany and has been a regular during the 2010 qualifiers. With over 50 national caps under his belt he spent five successful seasons in France with Mons before transferring to Romanian side FC Timişoara in January 2009.
He is a pillar of strength in the Togolese defence and could well be the deciding factor regarding his country’s fate in Angola. Emmanuel Adebayor will be expected to continue with his recent good vein of form in the English Premiership with Manchester City to ensure Togo goes past the first round, but it will be the linchpin of their defence who will have a great deal of influence on the outcome.
Kossi Agassa - This young goalkeeper is also highly rated, earning himself the nickname "Magic Hands". His undoubted acrobatics and agility will certainly leave many strikers holding their heads in disbelief. Watch this contender for goalkeeper of the tournament.
Their main objective would be bettering their participation in the previous editions of the continental showpiece. Having failed to go past the first round in their three previous tournaments anything more than that will be an achievement and if they reach the semis then its cherry on top.
Looking at the group they find themselves in, with the big guns of Ghana and Ivory Coast they seem to stand little chance of progressing to the next round on paper but this is football and anything can happen.
Did you know?
* Togo was a German colony until the First World War.
* The current African Player of the Year is Togo star, Emmanual Adebayor.