Saturday, January 30, 2010

Super Eagles win bronze


The Super Eagles' rollercoaster form in the 2010 African Cup of Nation continued in Benguela on Saturday as they struggled in the first half before Obinna Nsofor's 55th minute goal handed them a 1-0 win over the Desert foxes of Algeria.
The Algerian National team was beaten 4-0 in the semi-final encounter with the defending champions Egypt.
But Algeria showed better discipline in their match against the Eagles and played some of their most attractive football of the competition as they pushed for an equaliser in the last 20 minutes.
Despite their dominance in the second-half, the Desert Foxes lacked a genuine goal-threat and failed to break down the Eagles defence.
Kanu magic
Meanwhile, the Super Eagles' frontline was transformed by the introduction of Portsmouth striker Nwankwo Kanu.
Head coach Shaibu Amodu brought in Kanu for Osaze Odemwingie after the Lokomotiv Moscow striker publicly criticised his manager's tactics in their semi final defeat.
While Kanu had little effect in the opening 45 minutes, his forward proved a class above in the second half, teasing the Algeria defence with his quick feet and subtle through-balls and playing a part in Nsofor's opportunistic goal.
The young striker was quick to act after Kanu had caused confusion on the edge of the Algeria area and smartly slid the ball past the on-rushing Algeria goalkeeper Mohamed Ousserir.

Togo given Africa Nations Cup ban

Togo given Africa Nations Cup ban
Togo has been banned from the next two Africa Cup of Nations following their withdrawal from this year's tournament.
Caf also fined the Hawks US$50,000 for the decision to quit the competition in the wake of a gun attack on the team.
Two members of their delegation were killed in the ambush which resulted in Togo to withdraw its team.
"The executive committee has banned Togo from the next two African Nations Cup and fined the Togo FA 50,000 U.S. dollars." Caf said in a statement.
A Togolese assistant coach and a press officer died following the ambush on their bus in the northern Angolan province of Cabinda on 8 January, prompting the government to recall the team for three days of mourning.
The Hawks initially wanted to compete in Group B with Ivory Coast, Ghana and Burkina Faso, but quit on the evening of the start of the competition on January 10 on their national government's orders.
But Africa's football governing body says the decision to pull the team amounted to governmental interference in the sport.
"The players publicly expressed their willingness to return to the Nations Cup to compete. But the Togo government decided to call back their national team," Caf explained in its statement.
"The decision by political authorities contravenes Caf and African Nations Cup regulations."
Togo midfielder Thomas Dossevi, who was on the bus when it came under fire minutes after it crossed the Angolan border from Pointe Noire, Congo, said Togo should appeal against the ban.
"We are a group of footballers who came under fire and now we can't play football any more. They are crushing us," Dossevi said.
"Togo should appeal the suspension. When we said we were going home for a three-day mourning they said they were with us in this ordeal and now they punish us."
Meanwhile, the families of the assistant coach and the press officer were taking legal action against the Caf and the Angolan state, their lawyer said.
"We are taking legal action because our compatriots were killed because of the mistakes of the Confederation of African Football (and) its president Mr Issa Hayatou," lawyer Alexis Aquereburu said.
"(The legal claim is) also against the Angolan state for putting in danger the life of our compatriots by organising this African Nations Cup in a war zone."
The armed wing of the Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC), embroiled in a decades-long separatist struggle, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The FLEC has fought a 30-year war against Angola's government for independence.
One grievance is that Cabindans see little of the money from oil that comes from their land.

Story from BBC SPORT:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ghana v Nigeria: The media view

Fierce west African rivals Ghana and Nigeria are preparing to face each other in the semi-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations, in one of the biggest games between the two in recent years.
Here, we ask our reporters in the two countries to gauge the contrasting moods in the Ghanaian and Nigerian press ahead of Thursday's crunch tie.
Confidence in the Ghanaian media is sky high ahead of the Black Stars' semi-final meeting with Nigeria on Thursday.
One of Africa's most intense football rivalries will be played out at the Cup of Nations for the third straight tournament but this time with a bigger prize at stake: a place in the final.
Ghana are chasing their first title since 1982 and their first final since 1992 and the significance of the match has not been lost on the country's media on Tuesday.
The biggest daily newspaper in Ghana, the Daily Graphic, summed it up expertly.
They called Thursday's game a "sumptuous clash" against an "age-old rival" and suggested Nigeria will be up for revenge after losing the quarter-final to Ghana in 2008.

Given that these games have never followed the form pattern, I think it will be a lot more difficult than most Ghanaians think
Metro TV presenter Christopher Opoku
"Two years ago the Black Stars defeated the Super Eagles. This time Nigeria will be seeking revenge as they stand in the way of the Black Stars from reaching the final of the continent's showpiece event," the paper wrote.
That quarter-final meeting in Accra two years ago, which Ghana won through a late Junior Agogo goal, was a major talking point on the morning sports phone-in programme on Accra's Asempa FM.
"I don't remember one contributor or text message that didn't say that Ghana will repeat the feat of two years ago," the show's presenter Moses Antwi told BBC Sport.
"No matter how many times I reminded them Ghana lost to Nigeria in the Nations Cup in 2002 and 2006, they simply wouldn't listen. The confidence level is unbelievable."
That confidence was also reflected on Metro TV where presenter Christopher Opoku said the semi-final will be a meeting between two sides who have defied the odds after being written off after their opening losses in Angola.
"I think Ghana has looked sounder tactically, but given that these games have never followed the form pattern, I think it will be a lot more difficult than most Ghanaians think," he said.
Despite his caution, however, most of Opoku's listeners remained optimistic, with 70 per cent of them declaring in a text poll that Ghana will win.
For a derby that exemplifies a rivalry between a bigger and smaller neighbour and becomes a grand stage where arguments about national superiority are played out, the result of that text poll is no surprise.
The Super Eagles are used to being on the receiving end of satirical headlines in the Nigerian media for their perceived lethargic performances and a semi-final place at the Nations Cup in Angola has not swung the mood here.
The fact that they just edged their quarter-final against Zambia on penalties has sparked a media frenzy ahead of the clash with their biggest rivals Ghana.
The Guardian Newspaper ran the headline "Enyeama shoots Eagles to semi-finals" on Tuesday after goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama saved Thomas Nyirenda's effort and then scored the winning kick himself.
But the paper was disappointed overall with the performance of the team.

Against Ghana you wonder what magic [Nigeria coach] Shaibu Amodu will come up with
Brila FM presenter Osondu Ngwude
"Before coming to this competition, Super Eagles Coach Shaibu Amodu was mandated to get Nigeria to the semi-final or lose his job, but the manner the team achieved that mandate may not have satisfied his employers, and definitely not Nigerians, who watched helplessly as Zambia, the least rated team in the quarter-finals, tore the Eagles apart in the encounter.
"Such was the sorry nature of Nigeria's game," it continued, "that defender Onyekachi Apam had to resort to rough tackles to stop the rampaging Chipolopolo. And it was one of such tough moves that earned the former Enugu Rangers' star a red card in the 106th minute of the encounter."
Brila FM also provided little comfort for players and officials of the Super Eagles, despite their last four berth.
The all-sports radio station based in Lagos and Abuja dedicated their morning "fans' assembly" segment to the quarter-final outcome and the upcoming semi-final.
The majority of fans calling in continued to cite unfit players, disjointed performances, coaching and tactical blunders and terrible team selections as the main problems affecting of the team.
Many predicted more gloom against Ghana, despite the Black Stars being ravaged by injury.
"The players were too casual against Zambia, they did not turn up for the party and to be honest the better side [Zambia] are on their way home," said Brila FM presenter Osondu Ngwude.
"Against Ghana you wonder what magic Shaibu Amodu will come up with. Sadly the fans and media do not have enough confidence in his ability."

Story from BBC SPORT

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Anelka fires Chelsea into 5th round

 France striker Nicolas Anelka took the plaudits after his goal inspired a 2-0 win at Preston keeping Chelsea on course to land the FA Cup for the third time in four seasons.
Anelka set the platform for the Premier League club's fourth round success at Deepdale on Saturday with his fifth goal in four games.
Young strike partner Daniel Sturridge doubled the holders' lead in the second half as Carlo Ancelotti's team saw off Darren Ferguson's Championship outfit.
But it was Anelka's performance which caught the eye of Chelsea assistant manager Ray Wilkins and he was keen to salute the former Arsenal and Real Madrid star.
"He's playing some outstanding football at the minute," Wilkins said. "He's clearly enjoying his football and training.
"He's an outstanding player and hopefully he will carry in this rich vein of scoring form."
Wilkins insisted Chelsea's professional performance against Preston is proof that the west London club are determined to retain the FA Cup they won last May after beating Everton 2-1 in the final.
"I thought our lads were extremely professional," he added. "This is not an easy place to come and the Preston fans really got behind their team.
"But we are the holders and we want to retain it. This is not an easy place to come and the fact that Carlo picked a strong team shows how seriously we are treating the competition."
Wilkins refused to blame referee Mike Dean for disallowing a goal by substitute Florent Malouda when the tie was goalless.
Malouda found the net soon after coming on in the first half for the injured Juliano Belletti. With the scores locked at 0-0, the goal was ruled out as the referee had blown for a foul committed on Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.
"In our eyes it was the wrong decision," added Wilkins. "But I'm not going to have a go at the referee. We got a free kick out of it and didn't make the most out of it."
Lampard was substituted in the second half after suffering a calf problem, but Wilkins is hopeful he will be available for Wednesday's home game with Birmingham City.
The tie might have had a different ending had Preston midfielder Darren Carter not missed from three yards towards the end of the first half, when the score was 1-0.
Ferguson, son of Manchester United manager Sir Alex, refused to criticise Carter for his astonishing blunder, which came after Portuguese keeper Hilario had failed to hold a header by Chris Brown.
"At half time I said to him to keep getting stuck in," said Ferguson, taking charge of his first home game since replacing Alan Irvine as Preston manager earlier this month.
"I didn't want him hiding in the second half. The lad needed a bit of a lift, but that's football.
"A few minutes before half time we miss a great chance and two minutes in the second half we concede a goal.
"But I can't have any complaints about my players. We played some great football."
Ferguson revealed Celtic had made an inquiry for Republic of Ireland international defender Sean St Ledger, but said: "Celtic have no chance of getting him on what they are offering."

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nigeria 3-0 Mozambique

Nigeria eased through to the last eight with a 3-0 win over Mozambique, courtesy of an Osaze Odemwingie double and a late goal from Obafemi Martins.
The Nigerians looked more convincing than in previous games, with Odemwingie netting either side of half-time and substitute Martins coming on to score.
Mozambique looked bright early on and were unlucky not to get on the scoresheet, with Paito threatening.
Nigeria qualify second from Group C behind Egypt, who topped the group.
The Super Eagles started a lot more positively than in their previous two matches, with John Obi Mikel just failing to find striker Yakubu Ayegbeni and Odemwingie making his first darting run forward and shooting wide early on.
On nine minutes, a poor Mozambique clearance went straight to Nigeria's Chinedu Obasi, who shot straight across goalkeeper Rafael, who covered it well and parried to safety.
The Mambas had a great opportunity minutes later, after some neat build-up play saw the ball through to winger Paito who unleashed a fierce long-range effort that breezed past the top corner.
Obasi looked in a great position mid-way through the half when Shittu headed down a dangerous ball to the striker, who snapped at the ball, giving Rafael a chance to gather.
Odemwingie again threatened when he fired off a shot at Rafael's near post that the keeper got down to well.

Paito then hammered in another spectacular effort on the half hour, forcing a diving save out of Nigeria keeper Vincent Enyeama.
Nigeria went back into their shells for a spell and allowed the Mozambicans to come onto the ball, before Odemwingie took charge and created the opener single-handedly.
The Lokomotiv Moscow man was gifted acres of space and time as he ran at the Mambas' defence and gratefully picked his spot to brilliantly fire in past the diving Rafael.
It was a deserved goal for a player who had been knocking on the door throughout the half.
Nigeria doubled their lead just after the break with a clinical break from their own half.
Yakubu was played onside on the left and squared for the on-rushing Odemwingie to double his tally with a neat first-touch finish.
From then on Nigeria looked comfortable for much of the second period, largely containing Mozambique in midfield.
Fanuel Massinga was limited to unleashing a 40-yard free-kick that almost came off when it dipped sharply, but not enough to trouble Enyeama.
Mozambique had their best chance to get back into the game when Domingues twisted and turned his way into a position to cross for Dario Monteiro, whose fine header was well saved at close range by Enyeama.
But the game was put beyond reach when Mikel punished sloppy defending to shoot at Rafael, who parried it into the path of Martins who finished confidently to put Nigeria through.

Story from BBC SPORT

Monday, January 18, 2010

France's Thierry Henry escapes Fifa ban over handball

Henry handles the ball before setting up France's equaliser
Striker Thierry Henry will not be punished by Fifa for his handball in France's World Cup finals play-off victory over the Republic of Ireland.
The world governing body's disciplinary committee concluded there was "no legal foundation" to deal with the case.
The Barcelona striker handled the ball twice in the build-up to the decisive extra-time goal from William Gallas.
Only the illegal use of a hand to prevent a goal being scored is covered in relation to possible sanctions.
The decision means the 32-year-old former Arsenal player will not face a ban for any of France's matches in the World Cup finals this summer.
"Handling the ball cannot be regarded as a serious infringement as stipulated in the Fifa disciplinary code," said a Fifa statement.
"There is no other legal text that would allow the committee to impose sanctions for any incidents missed by match officials."
The Republic did not qualify for the 2010 World Cup and Fifa rejected a request to have the match replayed.
Previously, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said Henry was guilty of "blatant unfair playing" but stopped short of calling for him to be punished.

Henry's handball caused an international furore, with the Republic claiming they had been "cheated" out of a place in the World Cup.
The extra-time goal meant the match in Paris ended 1-1, with France going through 2-1 on aggregate.
Henry apologised over the incident and later admitted it left him contemplating whether to quit international football.
On the back of the controversy surrounding the incident, Fifa met at Cape Town to consider goal-line technology and extra referees at the World Cup.
However, the sport's governing body decided against using additional referees in South Africa and have instead opted to set up an inquiry into the benefits of video technology and extra officials.

Story from BBC SPORT

Essien ruled out of Nations Cup

Ghana midfielder Michael Essien is out of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations after suffering a knee injury in training. 

The Chelsea star could also miss Premier League and Champions League matches after he suffered a partially torn medial ligament in his left knee.
Scans revealed he also suffered damage to his meniscus when sustaining the injury on Sunday morning.
Ghana's team doctor believes the injury will keep the 27-year-old out for at least a month and perhaps longer.
The news will come as a blow to both Chelsea's Premier League title aspirations as well as Ghanaian hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.
The Black Stars had been desperate to field Essien for Tuesday's must-win Group B tie against Burkina Faso in Luanda but he can only walk with the aid of crutches.
"This is a big blow because Michael is so important to our team," striker Matthew Amoah told BBC Sport.
"We've lost the motor in our midfield, and this is very bad."
The Chelsea man only returned to training on 6 January, having not played since tearing his hamstring while on Champions League duty with his English club in early December.
The hamstring problem meant Essien failed to start Friday's 3-1 defeat by the Ivory Coast, coming on a second half substitute for the clash in Cabinda.

He was stretchered off in that game before returning to the action, but his injury woes returned in full on Sunday morning.
"Michael was turning to make a pass when he just went down," midfielder Anthony Annan told BBC Sport.
"There was no contact from any other player but those around him say they heard a click, and then the physios rushed over."
Essien was ferried to hospital in an ambulance as he went for an MRI scan in Luanda on Sunday.
He becomes the latest of Ghana's key men to suffer injury, with John Pantsil, John Mensah, Laryea Kingston and Stephen Appiah all ruled out before the tournament.
If Ghana fail to beat the Burkinabe on Tuesday, the World Cup finalists will exit the Nations Cup.
Ivory Coast have already qualified from Group B, with four points from two games, while Burkina Faso have one point and Ghana none.
After Togo's withdrawal from the competition following the gun attack on their bus, Group B was reduced to three teams and just three matches.

Story from BBC SPORT

France captain Thierry Henry to face Fifa over handball

France and Barcelona star Thierry Henry faces Fifa's disciplinary committee on Monday over his controversial handball against the Republic of Ireland.
The executive committee of football's world governing body referred the striker's case to disciplinary chiefs.
Henry handled the ball twice in the build-up to the extra-time goal from William Gallas that meant the Republic did not qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
Fifa rejected the Republic's request to have the match replayed.
Fifa president Sepp Blatter has said former Arsenal player Henry was guilty of "blatant unfair playing" but stopped short of calling for him to be punished.
It seems likely that Henry will escape with a warning or a fine rather than a ban that would rule him out of one or more World Cup matches in South Africa this summer.
Under current Fifa rules, the disciplinary committee is only entitled to impose sanctions following the illegal use of a hand to prevent a goal being scored.
Henry's handball caused an international furore, with the Republic claiming they had been "cheated" out of a place in the World Cup and demanding a replay.
The extra-time goal meant the match in Paris ended 1-1, with France going through 2-1 on aggregate.
Henry, 32, apologised over the incident and later admitted it left him contemplating quitting international football.
On the back of the controversy surrounding the incident, Fifa met at Cape Town to consider goal-line technology and extra referees at the World Cup.
However, the sport's governing body decided against using additional referees in South Africa and have instead opted to set up an inquiry into the benefits of video technology and extra officials.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ivory Coast draw Burkina Faso

Tournament favourites Ivory Coast were left ruing missed opportunities as they were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw by Burkina Faso in Group B in Cabinda.
Bakari Kone missed several chances as the Ivorians, who had an early penalty appeal turned down, dominated the Africa Cup of Nations game throughout.
The best chance came in the 68th minute when Kone dragged an easy chance wide.
It means the Ivory Coast may now need a win against Ghana if they are to progress past the group stages.
Burkina Faso defended deeply for much of the game, only venturing forward on the counter-attack, and failed to register a shot on goal in the first half.
Their only chance in the first period arose from a committed run and cross from Jonathan Pitroipa - but the ball was scrambled out of harm's way by the Ivorian defence.
Ivory Coast peppered the Burkina Faso goal in the closing stages, but failed to make their superiority count.
BBC African Footballer of the Year Didier Drogba set up the Elephants' best chance of the first half, deftly playing through Bakari Kone who directed his shot straight at the goalkeeper.

We still have all the cards in our hands and I know we can go through.
Vahid Halilhodzic, coach, Ivory Coast
Earlier, Bakari Kone had headed a decent chance wide after a whipped cross from the impressive Gervinho after 16 minutes.
The Ivorians will have felt hard done by in the 20th minute when the referee denied Drogba a penalty when he was tripped in the penalty area by Mamadou Tall.
The second half heralded more of the same, with the Elephants heavily dictating the pace in the early stages.
In the 55th minute, a long-range Bakari Kone shot whistled past the upright.
As the game passed the hour mark, Burkina Faso began to go forward, but although Pitroipa looked lively they never looked like outwitting the Ivory Coast defence.
A fierce long-range free kick from Moumouni Dagano in the 67th minute did trouble Boubacar Barry in the Ivorian goal, but he managed to dive low to his left to save.
Galatasaray's Abdulkader Keita nearly struck for Ivory Coast in the 77th minute when his cross drifted towards goal - only to be tipped over by a Burkinabe goalkeeper Daouda Diakite.
A hatful of scrappy but unconvincing chances were seen off as Burkina Faso registered a shock draw.
Burkina Faso coach Paulo Duarte was pleased with the result, especially after seeing his side lose twice to Ivory Coast during Nations Cup qualifiers.

"During those two games I had opted for a very offensive strategy and we lost," he said.
"Tonight, we didn't make a great match, but I won one point."
Ivory Coast coach Vahid Halilhodzic admitted his team faces a tough task to reach the quarter-finals.
"We are now in a very difficult situation.
"But we still have all the cards in our hands and I know we can go through."
Ivorian captain Drogba says the emotions raised after the attack on the Togo team bus played heavily on the players' minds.
"After what happened a few days ago it was difficult to concentrate," he said after the game.
"We do not forget what happened but now the competition has started and we try to focus on the games."
The departure and subsequent disqualification of Togo means Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Ghana will only play two games each in Group B.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Togo Team To Compete Despite Angola Attacks

In a completely unexpected move, the squad from Togo has gone against their own country's withdrawal from the African Cup of Nations and decided to compete in honor of their fallen comrades. 

According to the French sports daily L'Equipe, the Togo team has decided to remain in the African Cup of Nations tournament and compete in honor of their fallen comrades who were victimized when the squad's bus was attacked in Angola.

Alaixys Romao, who plays for Grenoble, told the paper that the team held a late vote and decided to go ahead with their scheduled match versus Ghana on Monday.

Forward Thomas Dossevi noted that the players would not forget those who suffered, which included three dead and others injured from the Togo delegation.

"People died for this and others are injured. We can not abandon them and go like cowards."

The Angolan government apparently pleaded with the players to not give the attacking rebels the satisfaction of stopping a team from competing in the tournament. The Angolans also promised improved security to ensure the safety of the team.

It is unclear if the decision of the Togo team will be backed by their own country - which moved to recall the team in the wake of the attack.

"Our government does not necessarily agree with us, but we are all determined to play this tournament," Dossevi reportedly said.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Togo withdraw from Africa Nations

Togo have pulled out of the Africa Cup of Nations following a deadly gun attack on their team bus in Angola.
The coach driver was killed and two players were shot and injured in the attack in the northern province of Cabinda on Friday.
Organisers insist the tournament will go ahead and are stepping up security.
But Togo midfielder Alaixys Romao told French paper L'Equipe: "We're talking to the other teams in our group to try to convince them to boycott too."
Togo were due to play Ghana in their opening match in Cabinda on Monday and the Black Stars players have confirmed they are happy for the tournament to go ahead.
Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso are the other teams in Group B.
Togo coach Hubert Velud told French radio station RMC that he thought the Angolan authorities should consider cancelling the entire tournament.
"We can at least pose ourselves that question," he said. ""It's an act of barbarism while we are here to celebrate African football.
"We left the hospital a short time ago to come to the centre for the teams in the competition. We stayed in the hospital a long time so that we could be very united.
"In these situations you become a bit paranoid, you doubt everything. We don't feel that the authorities are taking this very seriously."
Togo captain, and Manchester City striker, Emmanuel Adebayor said on Friday many players wanted to go home.
He told BBC Afrique: "It's a football game, it's one of the biggest tournaments in Africa and a lot of people would love to be in our position but I don't think anybody would be prepared to give their life.

You cannot sleep after what we have seen - one of your team-mates with bullets in his body in front of you, crying and losing consciousness
Emmanuel Adebayor
"If I am alive I can still play football tomorrow and in one year maybe even another Cup of Nations but I am not ready to pass away now.
The driver of the Togo team bus was killed in the incident, while nine others were injured including two players, an assistant manager, physio, goalkeeping coach and another coach.
Defender Serge Akakpo, who plays for Romanian club Vaslui, was hit by two bullets and lost a lot of blood in the attack in Angola's oil-rich territory of Cabinda, which is due to host seven matches.
Adebayor said the players were unsure whether Akakpo would survive at the time, but his club reported that his condition was stabilised and he underwent successful surgery.
Reserve goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale, who plays for French club GSI Pontivy, was also wounded, while several other players required hospital treatment and were later seen with bandages on legs, hands and faces.

"I don't think any of the players will be able to sleep after this," said Adebayor, who admitted they were all still in shock.
"You cannot sleep after what we have seen - one of your team-mates with bullets in his body in front of you, crying and losing consciousness. It is very difficult."
Souleymane Habuba, spokesman for organisers the Confederation of African Football (CAF), said the tournament would proceed despite the attack.
"Our great concern is for the players, but the championship goes ahead," said Habuba, who questioned why Togo had elected to travel by road rather than flying.
"CAF's regulations are clear: teams are required to fly rather than travel by bus," he added.
Football's world governing body Fifa has expressed its concern about the attack.
"Fifa and its president, Sepp Blatter, are deeply moved by today's incidents which affected Togo's national team, to whom they express their utmost sympathy," said a statement.
"Fifa is in touch with the African Football Confederation (CAF) and its president, Issa Hayatou, from which it expects a full report on the situation."

Story from BBC SPORT

Drogba wins BBC African Footballer of the Year award

Didier Drogba of Chelsea and Ivory Coast has been crowned the 2009 BBC African Footballer of the Year.
The striker beat Samuel Eto'o, Michael Essien, Yaya Toure, and Tresor Mputu Mabi to the title.
The results of the poll - voted for by football fans around the world - were announced live from Angola on the BBC African Service Fast Track programme.
Drogba is preparing to lead his country at the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, where the Elephants are favourites.
After a disappointing start to the year, Drogba saw his footballing fortunes vastly improve throughout 2009.
Frozen out of Chelsea's team by then Blues coach Luis Felipe Scolari, the Ivorian striker had scored just one goal in 10 matches by February.
He also earned himself a lengthy ban for a foul-mouthed rant at live television cameras after Chelsea's elimination from last season's Champions League.

He ended the year, however, with Chelsea challenging for the 2009/2010 English Premier League title and Champions League crown, an FA Cup winner's medal in the bag and widely recognised as one of the most influential strikers in world football.
On the international scene, he secured qualification for the Ivory Coast at the 2010 World Cup and Nations Cup finals.
He scored six times in five games in the Elephants' campaign, including the goal which would take them to the World Cup - an equalizer against Malawi which he scored minutes after coming on as a substitute in Blantyre.
Drogba is currently joint top scorer in the Premier League on 14 goals and heads to Angola with Chelsea currently top of the table.

He also claimed recently that he is aiming to break the club's all-time goal-scoring record, having signed a contract extension to remain at Stamford Bridge until 2012.
Away from football, Drogba has campaigned for greater education in Africa to combat HIV/AIDS and has also raised money to build a new hospital in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan.

Togo footballers tell of attack

Players in Togo's national football team have told of their shock when gunmen fired on their bus as they drove to the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
Manchester City player Emmanuel Adebayor described it as "one of the worst things I've ever been through in my life".
He said the bus was targeted just 5km (3 miles) across the border and the shooting lasted for half an hour.
He described how players and other team members were trapped in the bus.
'In shock'
"They shot dead our driver, there was no-one to drive the bus," he told the BBC.
He said those on the bullet-riddled vehicle had to continue to dodge bullets to jump into the cars that eventually came to rescue them.

All the players - everyone was crying [...] saying their last words because they thought they'd be dead
Emmanuel Adebayor Manchester City player
"It was like we were living in a dream. I'm still under shock," he said.
"I am one of those who carried the injured players into the hospital, that is when I realised what was really going on. All the players - everyone was crying, calling their mums, crying on the phone, saying their last words because they thought they'd be dead."
Thomas Dossevi, who plays for Togo and FC Nantes, said they had been "machine-gunned, like dogs".
He told how players had hidden under the seats of the bus as bullets flew around them.
Several players are reported to have been injured in the attack in the Angolan territory of Cabinda.
Aston Villa said its 26-year-old midfielder Moustapha Salifou was "shaken but okay" following the attack.
"Machine-gunned at the border with Angola!" Mr Dossevi told French sport radio RMC.
"I don't know why. We were under the seats of the bus for 20 minutes trying to get away from the bullets."
'Heavy firing'
Mr Dossevi described the gunmen as hooded and "armed to the teeth".
He said the team had just completed border checks when the firing started.
"We were surrounded by the police and everything was in order," he told AFP news agency.
"Then there was heavy firing and police fired back. You would have thought we were in a war. We were shocked. When we got out of the bus we asked ourselves, why us?"
He said the goalkeeping coach and the doctor were among those wounded.
"We don't really want to play in the Africa Cup of Nations," he said. "We are thinking of our friends, the injured players."
Midfielder Richmond Forson said the number of injuries could have been much worse had the gunmen not originally fired on the wrong bus.

They thought we were in the bus in front, fortunately for us
Togo player Richmond Forson
"It was the bus carrying our baggage which was in front of us which they fired on the most," he told French TV channel Canal Plus.
"They thought we were in the bus in front, fortunately for us. That's what saved us.
"Then they fired on our driver and those who were in front. The windscreen was shattered by the first bullets."
He added: "It's disgusting to take bullets for a football match."
Fellow midfielder Alaixys Romao said the players had feared the worst and he believed Togo were now likely to pull out of the tournament.
"We're not thinking yet of what could happen," said the Grenoble player.
"But it's true that no-one wants to play. We're not capable of it.
"We are thinking first of all about the health of our injured because there was a lot of blood on the ground.
"For the moment there is not much news because they have been taken to different hospitals.
"In cases like these we are thinking of those near us, of those we love because that really could have been the end of us."
Aston Villa said its 26-year-old midfielder Moustapha Salifou was "shaken but okay" following the attack.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Togo footballers shot in ambush

Gunmen have fired on a bus carrying Togo's football team to the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola, wounding players and reportedly killing the driver.
The attackers machine-gunned the vehicle after it crossed from the Republic of Congo into Angola's oil-rich territory of Cabinda.
Rebels who have been fighting for the region's independence later said they had carried out the attack.
The organisers of the tournament, which starts on Sunday, say it will go ahead.
The Angolan government called the incident an "act of terrorism".
The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Flec), which said it carried out the attack, has fought for independence for several decades, but entered a ceasefire in 2006.
In a statement quoted by Portugal's Lusa news agency, the group said: "This operation is only the start of a series of targeted actions that will continue in all the territory of Cabinda."
Togo is due to play its first cup game in Cabinda on Monday. The Confederation of African Football confirmed that the tournament would go ahead as planned, despite the violent attack.
Angolan Sports Minister Goncalves Muandumba said security for the competition would be stepped up to guarantee "all the conditions necessary for the success, tranquillity and security of the people and their belongings".
'Under shock'
Nine people, including at least two players, were wounded during the shooting, reports said. Central defender Serge Akakpo was among those hurt and back-up goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale was also reportedly injured.
Romanian side FC Vaslui confirmed that Mr Akakpo, who joined the club from French side Auxerre last year, was shot and badly injured in the attack. The 22-year-old was out of danger after being struck by two bullets and being treated by doctors, the club said.

The team's communications manager was among those seriously wounded in the shooting.
Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor was also on the bus but is unhurt. Speaking to the BBC, he described the incident as "one of the worst experiences of his life".
"I'm still under shock," Mr Adebayor said. "I was one of those who carried the injured players into the hospital - that is when I realised what was really going on. All the players, everyone was crying, calling their mums, crying on the phone, saying their last words because they thought they'd be dead."
The bus was travelling to Cabinda from the squad's training ground in the Republic of Congo when the shooting happened.
"This was an act of terrorism," Cabinda affairs minister Bento Bembe told Reuters news agency.
Football's highest governing body, Fifa, said it was troubled by the incident.
"Fifa and its president, Joseph S Blatter, are deeply moved by today's incidents which affected Togo's national team, to whom they express their utmost sympathy," the body said in a statement.
Competition officials said they had not known that the Togolose team had decided to drive directly to Cabinda.
They said they had expected the squad first to fly to the Angolan capital, Luanda, and from there to Cabinda.
Shot 'like dogs'
The head of the Togolese football federation told AFP news agency that the driver had died.
Togo striker Thomas Dossevi told France's RMC radio that several players were "in a bad state" after the attack.

  • Oil-rich province cut off from the rest of Angola by DR Congo

  • Flec rebels fought for region's independence

  • Rebels laid down arms in 2006 but some unrest continues

  • Angola had dismissed concerns about staging games there

  • "We were machine-gunned, like dogs," he said. "At the border with Angola - machine-gunned! I don't know why. I thought it was some rebels. We were under the seats of the bus for 20 minutes, trying to get away from the bullets."
    The identities of those injured - who also included team staff - have not yet been confirmed.
    Togo's first game in the tournament is due to be against Ghana on Monday.
    But midfielder Alaixys Romao told RMC the team was likely to pull out of the 16-nation cup.
    "No-one wants to play," he said. "We're not capable of it.
    "We're thinking first of all about the health of our injured because there was a lot of blood on the ground."

    Story from BBC NEWS