Salifou disgusted by Togo ban

04 February 2010 02:25
The Villa player is adamant the Confederation of African Football (CAF) would not have taken this course of action had one of the leading countries such as Cameroon or Ivory Coast adopted the same approach.

The 26-year-old even feels the 2010 competition would not have gone ahead had a major nation experienced the trauma of a terrorist attack.

Three people were killed in the attack by gunmen shortly after the Togo coach had crossed the border into the Angolan enclave of Cabinda on January 8.

He said: "If we had returned to the tournament, there were going to be no sanctions against Togo. Now they (CAF) say we have a four-year ban.

"They treat us like they have because we are a small country. If it had been Cameroon or the Ivory Coast, nobody is going to say they are banned from two African Nations Cups.

"Because it is Togo, a small country, they have banned us.

"Have we been picked on? Yes, I think so. If the crime had been against Cameroon or the Ivory Coast, they would never have played the African Nations Cup.

"When it is a small country like Togo, it is not the same although I believe we are appealing the decision."

Salifou was speaking in public at Villa's Bodymoor Heath training complex for the first time since the fatal attack, and has echoed the sentiments of many of his team-mates in believing he was going to die during the 30-minute assault.

He said: "We crossed the boundary into Angola after being given assurances the road was safe but after 15 minutes people started to shoot at the coach.

"The Angolan government told us everything is OK in their country. If they had told us it was not safe, we would have flown in.

"The attackers shot the driver and after two or three minutes all the players had to lie on the floor and everyone was just crying. We had to wait for 30 minutes.

"I did not feel I would make it off that bus alive. We had to lie on the floor and the gunshots passed over our heads. There was blood on the floor of the coach.

"To be honest, I was thinking everyone was going to die in the coach. God saved us and then some security guys started shooting back."

Salifou was also visibly moved when he went to visit some of the wounded Togo players and personnel in hospital.

He said: "We went to the hospital and our goalkeeper said 'we are here for football and look what has happened now'.

"He said 'if I die now, who is going to look after my family?'. Everyone started to cry."

Salifou has received great support from the Villa management and players since returning to England although he has still yet to resume playing.

He said: "The fans chant my name at games and it is a good feeling for me and all I can say is thank you to the fans and everybody.

"I feel so much for the people who have died and been injured. I have to move on from this but it is not easy.

"I have been training and I watched the Carling Cup semi-final against Blackburn and the Arsenal game last week.

"I have to start playing again at some stage."

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Source: Team_Talk