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Villa reserve midfielder in state of shock…

Aston Villa midfielder Moustapha Salifou revealed he felt “lucky to be alive” after being on board the Togo national team coach that was attacked while travelling to compete in the African Cups of Nations. 

The Villa reserve player saw the bus driver, assistant manager and press officer killed in the shooting after the coach was ambushed by Angolan rebels just six miles after crossing from Congo into Angola.

Salifou told Aston Villa’s official website: “It was only 15 minutes after we crossed into Angola that the coach came under heavy fire from rebels.

“The driver of the coach was shot almost immediately and died instantly, so we were just stopped on the road with no where to go.

“Our security people saved us. They were in two separate cars, about 10 of them in total, and they returned fire. The shooting lasted for half an hour and I could hear bullets whistling past me. It was like a movie.

“I know I am lucky really. I was in the back of the coach with Emmanuel Adebayor and one of the goalkeepers. A defender who was sat in front of me took two shots in the back.

“The goalkeeper, Obilale Dodo, one of my best friends, was shot in the chest and stomach area and 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. We were looking forward to playing football and to being together as a team. None of us can play football now.”

Gunmen in an area plagued by separatist violence used machine guns to open fire on the Togo national team’s coach, which was travelling in a convoy from Congo.

The region’s main separatist group - The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda - has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Togo has now pulled out of the tournament after waiting for clearance from their federation to do so.

Added Salifou: “I am back at our camp in Cabinda with my team-mates but we all want to go home to Togo.

“We don’t want to compete in the tournament because our assistant manager has been killed and also the press and communications officer. As a team, we have made this decision.

“To be honest, I can’t sum up how I feel at this moment. My parents keep calling me from Togo every 30 minutes just to make sure I am okay and to see how things are going here.

“But we have made our decision as players [the Togo national team]. We can’t play in these circumstances and we want to leave for home today [Saturday].”

David Middleton, Goal.com UK

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