CAF bids goodbye to Togo after the team failed to heed its call to stay…The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has rejected a sudden plea by Togo to return to play at the Africa Cup of Nations, according to reports in Angola.
Media reports say Togo’s sports minister Christophe Padumhokou Tchao is cajoling CAF to allow them back into the tournament after three days of mourning. However, the tournament organizers have turned their back on the West Africa nation, reports the BBC.
However, these reports were cast into doubt after Togo's prime minister Gilbert Huongbo is reported to have denied his country wants to re-enter the Nations Cup.
CAF said Togo will be disqualified from the African Nations Cup finals if they do not show up for their opening Group B match, against Ghana in Cabinda on Monday, reports Reuters.
But Huongbo insisted the game against Ghana in Cabinda, which was supposed to be the opener in Group B, will not go ahead.
"The information that has been circulated on some websites saying the players are just back for three days' mourning and will then go back is quite wrong.
"We withdrew our team on the basis they have been the victim of a terrorist attack.
"Management did not give us enough assurances. We would leave our team being exposed to similar risks [were they to return]. Therefore we decided to pull our team out of the competition against our will.
"We would have hoped that one can have serene discussion with the host country, with the Confederation, to assess what has happened, assess what one has to do. We received no co-operation from the Confederation in terms of any kind of assessment.
"Our analysis is that they want [the shooting] to be seen as a non-event and the show must go on as planned; there mustn't be an official change [saying] Togo is causing problems to the festival,” he told BBC Radio 5 live.
He added: "What if something happened again? What is our responsibility? It is a matter of taking seriously the safety of our people.
"It is not my pleasure for us to withdraw, we don't want to play into the hands of the terrorists, but we have a responsibility to protect our people."
The Hawks packed their bags on Sunday evening after the team’s bus was caught in a rebel assault on Friday resulting in the death of three people. An assistant coach, press officer and bus driver were killed and players were injured.
Meanwhile, according to Angolan state media, two people have been arrested in connection with the ambush incident on the Togo convoy.
A faction of the separatist group, Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda, has claimed responsibility for the 30-minute-long attack.
K.N.S Mensah, Goal.com