Beautiful game? An Angola soldier guards the complex in Cabinda housing the teams from Togo, the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Burkina Faso
'Accommodation and transport are extremely limited outside of Luanda,' say the Foreign Office. And here is their considered opinion of Cabinda, an enclave and province of Angola, separated from the rest of the country by land belonging to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
'We advise against all but essential travel to the interior of Cabinda Province. In 2008 there were reports of violent incidents including rape, murder and kidnapping involving foreigners and Angolans in the Province. Groups claiming responsibility for these attacks have declared their intention to continue attacks against foreigners.'
Cabinda is a disputed territory and armed groups seek its independence. As its coastline contains some of Angola's richest and most developed oilfields, there is great reluctance to allow this to happen. What better place, then, to hold five Group B games, a single Group A game and a quarter-final during the Africa Cup of Nations?It is not as if some of the most famous sportsmen in the world might not be a target for armed freedom fighters wishing to draw attention to their cause.
The Cabinda bowl would certainly seem the one to avoid at the draw on November 20. Now that is what you call a group of death.
Fearing the worst: Martin Samuel's column on August 19, 2009
That opinion was published in this newspaper on August 19, 2009. It did not require a two-month fact-finding mission or a Deep Throat-style meeting with a CIA mole in an underground car park to research, merely a passable knowledge of recent history and a laptop.
More from Martin Samuel. Martin Samuel meets Wolves boss Mick McCarthy: 'Don't dare question my integrity'08/01/10 MARTIN SAMUEL: This avalanche of TV reports is freezing out facts07/01/10 MARTIN SAMUEL: Will Spurs be left at the altar again?15/12/09 Martin Samuel: Rafa, you are lucky to have won more than Souness13/12/09 MARTIN SAMUEL: What did you do when the ice was melting, Daddy?10/12/09 Martin Samuel: Giggs is the only star to pass my test of genius08/12/09 Martin Samuel: David Beckham must rule our World Cup bid for 201806/12/09 MARTIN SAMUEL: Good news, what can possibly go wrong for England?05/12/09 VIEW FULL ARCHIVE Just five minutes of digging would have done it. Yet the outrageously glib first reaction of the Confederation of African Football to a wholly avoidable tragedy, for which they are culpable, was to question why the Togo team travelled to Cabinda by road, rather than air.
'Most internal travel continues to be by air,' the Foreign Office says of Angola, 'though the quality and maintenance of aircraft operated by some airlines within Angola cannot be relied upon. It is recommended that you avoid flying with any Angolan-operated airline if an acceptable alternative means of travel exists.' Also, Togo had prepared for this tournament at a camp 125 miles from Cabinda, so flying to their destination would have necessitated a return trip to Luanda, capital of Angola, and a second flight back over the territory they had left.
They probably couldn't afford it and it is appalling that the organisers should admonish them for the tragic consequences of this decision.
Neither does Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, have the right to mount his knackered old high horse again at comparisons drawn between events in Angola and security at his tournament in the summer.
High horse: 2010 World Cup chief executive Danny Jordaan has no right to draw comparison between events in Angola and security at this summer's Finals
He is correct that the two bear no comparison because South Africa does not have a terrorism problem it has a crime problem but Jordaan was among those who visited Angola on behalf of the CAF in 2006 and pronounced it suitable, with special reference to security. That is what these guys do. They travel the world blithely announcing that everything is coming up roses, usually from a suite at the onlyfive-star hotel in town. They are then picked up from the door, and delivered to another one at the airport, before departing, first class.
The Africa Cup of Nations in Angola was flawed from the start because, financially, it had to include games in oil-rich Cabinda, which is a disputed region at the mercy of terrorists.
And this is not being wise after the event: it was there for all to see. The bottom line is that the Angolan government wished to use this opportunity to demonstrate Cabinda was safe for foreign investors, which it is not, and so the entire tournament was built on a falsehood propelled by avarice. There is even a clampdown on media reports of insurgency in the area to encourage investment by major companies such as Chevron. You can dismount now, Danny. Thanks.
Agony: Emmanuel Adebayor weeps after three were killed on the Togo team bus
As can all the armchair generals, reporting live from the fireside, who continue to advocate it is the duty of young sportsmen to fight by proxy wars that they do not understand, as if the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda were going to put down their weapons and declare it a lost cause if Togo had defied their government and kicked off against Ghana at the Estadio Chimandela this afternoon.
FLEC have already achieved their aim because now everybody is aware of the bloody dispute in Cabinda and Angolan government interests have been harmed. They may even consider the job done and the remainder of the tournament will pass off without incident.
Even so, to guarantee team safety, as some Angolan ministers have done, is deceitful. No government can do that. Not in South Africa, not in London in 2012, not in Brazil in 2014 and certainly not in Angola.
Alert: Angola security forces give a helicopter escort to the Togo team bus on its way to Cabinda airport
Fatally, modern sports administration exists in a world of let's pretend. Let's pretend the world is one, let's pretend all countries are equally challenged, let's pretend all have the same resources and ability to cope.
If Angola, still in recovery from 27 years of brutal civil war, has the infrastructure to deal with a major international tournament, as Jordaan and others suggested, why was it necessary to airlift Kodjovi Obilale, the goalkeeper of Togo, who was shot twice in the back during the Cabinda attack, to the Millpark Hospital in Johannesburg, 1,780 miles away? A colleague died of his wounds during the journey.
This self-serving deception must stop. And it would, immediately, if we could only force a rule change that by law imposed compulsory travel by public transport and a limit of £100 per night on accommodation for all administrators, organisers and executives at sports events. Then we would see how many would be prepared to run the Cabinda gauntlet.
Meanwhile, here is a comforting thought. When a spokesman for the Millpark Hospital in Johannesburg was asked about the latest SOS admission to the trauma unit, he appeared very relaxed.
'Obilale is in the best possible hands,' he said. 'His injuries are not uncommon to us.'
Treat the boss like cup-tied playersBolton Wanderers have pinched Owen Coyle from Burnley and now Burnley are likely to get their hands dirty as they try to plug the gap.
Coyle's successor is unlikely to come from the ranks of the unemployed and, for all their understandable moral outrage, Burnley will probably now have to pull the same trick on a lesser club.
Walking away: New Bolton boss Owen Coyle should be cup-tied after leaving Lancashire rivals Burnley
This is nothing new, but one rule would stop it. Cup tie managers as if they were players. If Coyle has managed Burnley in the Premier League this season, he cannot also manage Bolton. The exceptions would be managers that have been sacked, such as Gary Megson. They would be free to work elsewhere.
I advocated this six years ago when West Ham United took Alan Pardew from Reading, both sides then in the second tier. Coyle's switch shows the situation has not improved. If five minutes as a substitute in the Champions League can bind a player to one team for the season, surely Coyle's 23 matches in charge of Burnley since August must count for something?
The League Managers' Association would no doubt object on the grounds that their members have a right to upward mobility, yet nothing would prevent a move at the end of the season.
And the rule would cut two ways, bringing the benefit of greater job security as well as an end to underhand tactics.
Would Bolton have dismissed Megson as hastily had they not been able to line up Coyle? There would still have been candidates out there, Mark Hughes or Alan Curbishley for instance, but would either have wanted the job or held the same appeal?
Instead, disruption is passed down through the leagues, with potentially ruinous consequences as the smaller a club are the less chance they have of overcoming a loss. Instead, while club chairmen refuse to even contemplate a fairer system, they will receive the loyalty they deserve.
And while we're at it.Still on the subject of prescience, several Manchester City fans have asked whether I care to revise my opinion that Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, got it spot on when selling Carlos Tevez, because he does not score enough Premier League goals to justify his massive transfer fee. Yes and no.
Yes, because his Player of the Month award for December, after scoring seven times in six matches, was thoroughly deserved.
Despite landing the player of the month accolade, the jury is still out on Tevez (L)
No, because had he made even half that impact in September, October or November a period when he scored against just one Premier League club the manager who put such great faith in him, Mark Hughes, would not have got the sack.
The jury remains out. Sorry.
Sulaiman Al Fahim, the non-executive chairman of Portsmouth, is to play himself in a film, Road To Darfur (although Road To Carey Street would be more suitable, given Portsmouth's present predicament).
'I want people to see the real me,' Al Fahim says, 'not what they saw in my reality TV show.' Isn't that marvellous? Even his reality isn't real.
Fans' Toon takeover will never take offThe Newcastle United Supporters Trust claims to have pledges of £50million to buy the club from Mike Ashley. Just £30m to go, then and that is a minimum estimate, considering there is a difference between having £50m on a promise and £50m in the bank.
The figure breaks down as 2,000 fans putting in £25,000 and a further 4,000 donating£1,500 each. Nobody doubts the noble intention, merely the practicality.
For instance, are the donors all single, or are there 2,000 partners still to be informed of vital funds diverted to a black-and-white hole in the centre of Newcastle? And now the club are on the brink of a return to the Premier League, won't the desire to throw good money after Ashley's bad have faded a little?
Committed: but can Newcastle's fans raise £80m?
Then there is that shortfall, £30m, as Ashley's asking price is £80m. One presumes those with real hunger for change have pledged already.
That leaves an awful lot to be raised from a well of indifference.
Even if NUST wanted as little as £300 each they would still need 100,000 to become financially active in a recession. At which point there would be 106,000 committedto Newcastle, all feeling entitled to a say. This is not Ebbsfleet United.
Newcastle United cannot be run as a utopian ideal. They are a serious club, a big club, and when they return to the Premier League they will require not just a well-meaning owner, but a well-heeled one.
It costs proper money to stay up: Sunderland spent £50m on new players in their first season.
Way out: Toon owner Mike Ashley in the stands with chairman Derek Llambias
We fondly imagine our biggest clubs can be governed like Barcelona or Real Madrid, but Spanish ownership is something of a myth. A very rich man is still in charge and members simply vote on who it will be.
This is different. NUST wish to buy and own Newcastle. They think it is the decent thing to do, which it is, and fun, which it most certainly is not.
Another man thought it would be enjoyable to run a football club the same man who is now desperate for it to be taken off his hands, if only he could find some mug with £80m; or 106,000 of them.
READ MARTIN SAMUEL EVERY MONDAY AND WEDNESDAYCONTACT MARTIN AT: firstname.lastname@example.org Togo are returning home from the Africa Cup of Nations, says captain Emmanuel AdebayorPremier League stars to flee Africa: Emmanuel Adebayor pulls out as terror attack leaves three deadAngola government pledge to beef up security after 'unfortunate' attackMartin Samuel meets Wolves boss Mick McCarthy: 'Don't dare question my integrity'