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By ESPN Staff

Togo officially disqualified from African Nations Cup

Togo have been officially disqualified from the African Nations Cup after the squad flew home on Sunday following the deadly gun attack on their bus in Cabinda two days earlier.

• Two arrests made over attack on Togo team bus

"They are disqualified. This group (B) is a three-team tournament," Confederation of African Football (CAF) co-ordinator Yaouba Amoa told reporters on Monday.

Togo's assistant coach and media officer were killed and reserve goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale seriously wounded by separatists from the enclave of Cabinda in Friday's attack.

Monday's Group B match between Togo and Ghana had been scheduled as the second part of a doubleheader. Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast shared a 0-0 draw in the first game at the new Chazi Stadium in Cabinda.

Togo midfielder Thomas Dossevi described the CAF decision as "ridiculous".

"It would have been simple for us to come back and play on Jan. 21, I think Ghana would have agreed to that," he told Reuters by telephone. "It is a serious and ridiculous decision. Everybody wanted us to be here and play the African Nations Cup."

Togo left Angola on a chartered flight sent to collect them after the attack but had expressed the hope they might be able to return and compete at the tournament.

Several players spoke of their willingness to play on but they were ordered home by Togo's government. The CAF official said it would be impossible to change the tournament schedule.

Togo's Prime Minister Gilbert Huongbo had earlier denied the country wanted to re-enter.

Huongbo told Victoria Derbyshire on BBC Radio 5live: "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"We have simply withdrawn our team, it is not a matter of withdrawing for the mourning period.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.''

Huongbo also hit out at the way Togo has been treated by the organisers of the tournament.

Huongbo insists the decision to withdraw was not made in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, but after support from CAF proved non-forthcoming.

He added: "Management did not give us enough assurance. We would not leave our team being exposed to similar risks. Therefore we deciced to pull our team out of the competition against our will.

"We will have hoped that one can have serene discussion with the host country, with the Confederation, to assess what has happened, assess what one has to do. We received no co-operation from the Confederation in terms of any kind of assessment.

"Our analysis is that they want it [the shooting] to be seen as a non-event and the show must go on as planned; there mustn't be an official change and Togo is causing problems to the festival.''

The Togo team returned to their home country on Sunday after apparently agonising over whether to stay in Angola or not. At first they were reportedly keen to leave but then considered staying on after a team meeting.

In the end, the decision was made for them by their government and Huongbo says there was no option.

He said: "What if something happened again? What is our responsibility? It is a matter of taking seriously the safety of our people. It is not my pleasure we withdraw, we don't want to play into the hands of the terrorists, but we have a responsibility to protect our people.''


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