Togo players head home
Published : 11 Jan 2010 08:18:27
The Togo squad returned home on Sunday night after opting to pull out of the African Nations Cup following Friday's terrorist attack on the team bus which left three people dead.
However, it could prove to be a short stay after it emerged the country's sports minister suggested they could return by the middle of the week.
Christophe Tchao told reporters before the squad left Cabinda: "We have ordered a three-day mourning. The players are leaving with the bodies of their fallen brothers and we have asked the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to find an arrangement so we can catch up with the competition later."
The decision to go home following two days of toing and froing eventually came from the country's leading governmental figures, overruling the players who had performed a U-turn and decided to participate as a mark of respect to the fallen.
Togolese prime minister Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo and president Faure Gnassingbe had the final say - despite some last-ditch talks instigated by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) designed to keep the team in Angola - insisting the squad return home immediately with the presidential plane dispatched to collect them.
Houngbo told L'Equipe: "We understand the approach of the players who wanted to express a way to avenge their fallen comrades, but it would be irresponsible on the part of the authorities to let them continue.
"The team must return. The government's decision is unchanged. It is a conscious decision since Friday. If a team or a person present themselves under the banner of Togo, it would be a false representation."
Manchester City striker and national team captain Emmanuel Adebayor reluctantly accepted the decision after speaking with Gnassingbe on Sunday morning, stating to French radio station RMC: "The head of state has decided we will return. There was a meeting between players on Saturday and we said we were still footballers.
"We all decided to do something good for the country and play to honour those who died. Unfortunately, the head of state and the country's authorities have decided otherwise. We will pack up and go home."