Togo's reserve keeper Kodjovi Obilale (pictured) still lies in a bed in Johannesburg with bullet lodged near his spine. He has been in intensive care since the shooting incident on the Togonese coach on the 8 January in the Cabinda province of Northern Angola. Three families the coach drivers, one of the teams assistant coaches and their press relations officer are not so lucky their men never made it alive.
Yet 24 hours before the final of the Africa Nations Cup the Confederation of African Football (Caf) announced that Toga were suspended from the next two stagings of the Africa Nations Cup and fined an punitive US $50,000 . Caf will be claiming that they are upholding Article 78 of the Nation Cup Regulations which specifies such a punishment for teams withdrawing shortly before the competition. However, Article 80 state they will tolerate withdrawals 'in cases of force majeure accepted by Caf'.
A force majeure allows for an extraordinary event or circumstance, surely the death by terrorists of two team officials in the view of the entire team and support staff, the injury to one of the playing members as a result should surely qualify Togo for a force majeure dispensation. It is not after all as if the team took the decision because of a threat that never happened they took the action because of an actual event that had an effect on their team.
Togo are going to be appealing this decision and like many in the footballing community I hope that common sense prevails and that their appeal is upheld. As a Liverpool fan I know that there are occasions that football is not more important than death. After Hillsborough the Liverpool team didn't play a game within the time scale that this evening's final would have allowed. The Liverpool were not out on the pitch for a full hour while the Lepping Road end fans fought for their lives, whereas the Togo players were pinned down in their coach facing their own possible deaths.
If they don't get to take part in the next two Africa Nations Cup Cardiff Blogger has a cunning plan to show up this ludicrous decision from Caf. He says let UEFA allow them into the 2012 European Championships, after all a lot of their key players are European based.
Personally I hope we see Togo qualify for the 2012 Africa Nations Cup to honour those that have died in their presence, but just in case....
BTW The final of the Africa Nations Cup finished Egypt 1 Ghana 0, and Egypt aren't one of the six African teams that will be in South Africa this summer for the World Cup.