Togo 'disqualified' after missing game
Published : 12 Jan 2010 08:43:08Rss feed
Togo's involvement in the African Nations Cup is over following their failure to appear for their opening match against Ghana on Monday night.
There had been uncertainty over their intentions since the team returned home from Angola after a gun attack on their team bus which left three people dead last Friday.
The Confederation of African Football have been largely silent on the matter amid conflicting reports over whether the team would return to Angola. But an official told reporters on Monday afternoon that if the west African side were not on the pitch come kick-off for their first game, they would be disqualified from the event.
The Togo players failed to take the pitch for their Group B opener, scheduled to kick off at 1830 GMT, putting an end to any lingering doubt over their involvement in the tournament.
"The referee has received the order to blow the starting whistle and if the Togolese players are not there, they will have lost the match and will be disqualified," a CAF official said on Monday afternoon.
Reports had suggested Togo filed a formal request to return after a three-day period of mourning but that was denied by CAF.
The CAF official added: "Togo have not taken official steps to come back and play the African Nations Cup. We have just heard this rumour in the press."
Togo's sports minister Christophe Tchao was quoted on Monday morning as saying a formal request had been made but Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo later denied they intended to re-enter the tournament.
Houngbo told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I do believe there is confusion. The information you have got, I'm afraid, might not be the most accurate.
"We have simply withdrawn our team, it is not a matter of withdrawing for the mourning period. The information that has been circulated on some websites saying the players are just back for three days' mourning and will then go back playing is quite wrong. We withdrew our team on the basis they have been the victim of a terrorist attack."
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