Football team decide to participate in tournament in spite of gun attack in Angola.
|The attack has had a damaging effect on Angola’s reputation as hosts [AFP]|
The head coach of host nation Angola has fiercely condemned the attack on the Togo team bus on the eve of the Africa Cup of Nations – saying “sport is made with footballs, not bullets.”
Manuel Jose was speaking at his team’s hotel in the capital Luanda on Saturday, before conflicting reports arose on whether the Togo team had withdrawn from the tournament.
It comes a day after a machine gun assault killed at least three people and wounded nine others, including two players in the northern enclave of Cabinda.
But Jose, a four-times winner of the African Champions League with Egyptian side Al Ahly, said “the show must go on.”
“We must play on for the respect of the Togo team,” he said.
“When it happened me and my players were very worried and very sad for Togo, we feel what they feel. We totally condemn what happened but we must play.
“Sport is made not with bullets, but with footballs.”
He said that he would understand if Togo pulled out of the competition, however.
The Confederation of African Football has maintained that the tournament will go ahead despite claims from the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) that they are behind the attack and will continue their campaign.
The group want Cabinda, a tiny region separated from the rest of Angola by the Democratic Republic of Congo, to be autonomous.
|FROM THE BLOGS|
Cabinda is the site of more than half the country’s oil reserves and with Angola vies for the title of sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest oil producer, generating billions of dollars in income every year.
Amid the conflict coach Jose mourned the damaging effect of Angola’s hosting of the 16-team cup.
“It’s unbelievable because what the government and what the country wants to do is to show the world that we are a young country who is putting 35 years of civil war behind us.
“Now we want to put our heads outside and what has happened is very bad.”
Angola are set to open the contest against Mali on Sunday and Togo were due to meet Ghana in Cabinda the day after, when Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso are also slated to meet in the enclave.