Villa midfielder Salifou disgusted by Togo's Africa Cup of Nations ban

05 February 2010 01:35
Aston Villa midfielder Moustapha Salifou re-lived his brush with death at the Africa Cup of Nations by admitting he wakes at night with images of the gun-battle still raging inside his head.

The Togo international was on board the team coach attacked last month in Cabinda which claimed the lives of two members of his party and that of the bus driver as rebel fighters ambushed their convoy.

Salifou admitted he was still struggling to come to terms with incident, insisting that just a stroke of good fortune prevented the assailants from claiming further lives.

Emotional: Salifou was speaking about the attack for the first time

Re-tracing the events of the afternoon, Salifou confirmed that theTogoese had received assurances that the road through Cabinda was safeuntil, 15 minutes after crossing the border into Angola, they wereattacked.

'We were travelling through a forest when people started to shoot atthe coach," he said, "the attackers shot the driver. After two or threeminutes we lay on the floor and everyone started crying.

'We couldn't see anyone shooting because of the forest. It wasdifficult to say how close they were. After two minutes, we all lay onthe floor and I was protecting myself.

Togo national football team handed six-year ban from Africa Cup of Nations. for being shot at by rebels'We shouted to each other every few minutes: 'Are you okay? Are youokay?'   "Our security guys started firing back and then one of themboarded the bus and told us not to scream. If we screamed they wouldknow we were still alive.

'We had to be quiet. Everyone started praying while shots flew over our heads and blood was on the coach floor.

'It was terrifying. The goalkeeper, (Obilade Kossi) had been dancingand the press assistant was taking pictures of him. They were shot.

Total fear: Salifou thought he was going to die

'I didn't feel I would make it off the bus alive. I thought everyone was going to die.

'Since I've been back, I've not slept for four days. When I do, Iwake up at 3am or 4am and somebody is shooting at me. I'm trying toforget, but it's difficult.

Salifou added that the casualties among the Togo squad could have been higher

'When we crossed the border, we were in front and the kit coach behind. But when we were attacked they were in front.' 

And the decision to ban Togo from the Africa Cup of Nations aftertheir withdrawal from tournament also upset Villa's midfielder further.

He added: 'If we had returned to the tournament, there were going tobe no sanctions against Togo. Now they (Central African FootballFederation) say we have a four-year ban.

Tragedy: Togolese gendarmes carry the coffin of one of the victims

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

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

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

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Source: Daily_Mail

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