NAIROBI, Kenya, January 9- Friday’s attack on the Togo national team by a separatist movement in Angola was the last thing Africa needed less than six months before the FIFA World Cup in South Africa.Their bus driver was killed and two players were injured in the attacked alleged to be carried out by Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC).
Despite the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and Angolan authorities promising added security for the Cup of Nations, questions are already being raised about the suitability of the continent as a destination for major tournaments.
It’s a well known fact that Angola is still recovering from a 27 year civil war that ended in 2002 and the CAN that starts on Sunday was meant to be part of the recovery process.
This is not the first time a sports team has been caught up in a conflict that does not concern them.
Last year, Islamic militants in Pakistan attacked a bus carrying the Sri Lanka cricket team who were on their way to play hosts, killing six policemen and the bus driver and injuring seven players.
That attack came hot on the heels after India decided to pull out from a tour of the country by India who cited security concerns.
As a result of that attack, Pakistan lost the rights to host next year’s Cricket World cup and most cricketing nations have shied away from touring the country.
At the moment, Togo who play their first match against Ghana on Monday are mulling over whether to pull out of the tournament or to go ahead despite their traumatic experiences.
English premiership club Portsmouth, who have four players in the tournament have already expressed their concerns and are thinking of getting their players out of their oil rich county.
No one will blame Togo for pulling out if they decide to do so, but I think it would be very unfortunate because all the World Cup bound teams who were planning to train in various Africa countries will be forced to assess their security situation.
Altough there will be questions over why the Sparrow Hawks decided to travel by road despite CAF insisting that teams should fly.
For a tournament well known for its colour and unique brand of football, the 2010 edition will be remembered for this cowardly act even if it goes on without any further incident.