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African Cup of Nations - blog

Violence overshadows football

by Paul Myers

Article published on the 2010-01-10 Latest update 2010-01-14 09:45 TU

Togo's reserve goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale arrives on a stretcher at Lanseria airport after being evacuated to Johannesburg for medical treatment(Photo: Reuters)

Togo's reserve goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale arrives on a stretcher at Lanseria airport after being evacuated to Johannesburg for medical treatment
(Photo: Reuters)

A dark cloud hangs over the Africa Cup of Nations after Friday's attack on the Togo team. Players are worried abotu security, especially about matches in Cabinda, the most militarised zone in the world.

And  finally the reason why we’re here - to watch football. The prelude to the opening match between Angola and Mali has been tragic.

Three dead, an injured player airlifted to South Africa for further treatment and a Togo team in shock.

The gun attack on their team buses on Friday afternoon has obviously made other squads wonder what is in store for them if they go to Cabinda.

The Angolan government has promised tighter security but Cabinda is already the most militarised zone in the world with one soldier for every ten people.

Not surprisingly the players – and those are the key ingredients in a tournament -  are concerned.

One player told me that the mood in the Mali squad has been subdued since the attack. They’ve been getting calls from family and friends asking if they are alright.

The Malians along with Malawi are supposed to play their final Group A game in Cabinda on 18 January.

When I spoke to some of the Mali squad on Saturday night they were adopting the wait-and-see approach.

But it’s not a wholesome scenario. There are enough worries in the run-up to big matches without having to weigh up whether the next fixture will be your last for the national or any other team.

These blokes are here to oil our clichés. They’re on the field to make terrible back passes, hit 30-yard rockets into the top right-hand corner, to play a blinder or have a stinker. They’re not supposed to be posing existential questions.

Angola 2010 is operating in another stream of consciousness.

It seems picking up that supplement on French author Albert Camus at Charles de Gaulle airport was  - as they say in the trade - a good piece of business.

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