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The African Football Confederation (CAF) have banned Togo from the 2012 and 2014 editions of the Africa Cup of Nations. Togo had pulled out of the on-going Africa Cup of Nations in Angola after their team bus had been shot at by a terrorist group in Cabinda, killing 3 of their squad members. The team’s goal-keeper who had also been shot is still in hospital in South Africa recovering from his wounds. The armed wing of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), which has been embroiled in a decades-long separatist struggle, had claimed responsibility for the attack. After the attack the Togo government had insisted that the team come back home despite some players wanting to stay on and play in honour of their teammates.
CAF state president Issa Hayatou told AFP the decision was based on “governmental interference”, which led to the team’s decision to pull out of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations.
The CAF rules do state that teams can be banned from two nations cup if they withdraw from the tournament. However there is provision within those rules for exceptional circumstances. Togo will rightly feel that the decision is too harsh on them as their opening match was scheduled just 72 hours after that attack.
CAF’s strange decision comes at an even stranger time, just a day before it’s showcase event, the Final of the Africa Cup of Nations.