John Pantsil might not be at the Africa Cup of Nations but Dickson Etuhu has gone with Nigeria. I haven’t heard anything from Fulham expressing concern about his safety, but there’s obvious concern about the security situation in Angola after the atrocities that befell the Togolese team earlier this week. The latest news seems to be that Togo will head home on the advice of their government, providing a sorry start to a tournament that was supposed to showcase Angola’s return to safety.
There are serious questions that need to be answered about the incidents that led up to the shooting in Cabinda on Friday. It’s not as if this attack came out of the blue as the separatist rebels had declared that they would step up their attacks during the tournament. That makes it all the more surprising that the Togo side took a bus from their training camp to Cabinda, the venue of their proposed opening game by bus. A dispute seems to have grown between the Togolese government and CAF, the Confederation of African football, who say they had instructed all competing nations to fly their squads to the tournament host cities.
There is also the unanswered question about just what the Angolan police were doing during the attack. The team convoy was supposed to be escorted by police and security officers, but the rebels were apparently able to unleash carnage on the coach for 20 minutes before police repelled them. It sounds like a terrible experience and it’s no wonder the Togo players are in a state of shock.
The terrible events of Friday will doubtless cast a shadow over the rest of the tournament, especially the opening game, which looked like an intriguing encounter between Angola and Mali. If you’re so inclined, the game kicks off at 8pm tonight, live on Eurosport and the BBC World Service.