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The history of football is a sad voyage from beauty to duty.
Saturday, January 21, 2006

Togo Down the Pan

It's official: Togo are an African Cup of Nations bust after just one game. The shambolic manner of today's 2-0 defeat to DR Congo will be a sickener to all those who have tipped the Hawks as the competiton's darkest horses; while the ensuing post match fall-out will frustrate Emmanuel Adebayor backers in the top goalscorer market.

The towering Adebayor, responsible for 11 of the 22 goals Togo bagged in their successful World Cup qualifying campaign, had been named in the starting line-up for the DR Congo game. At some point in the 30 minutes prior to kick-off- doubtless the time when many punters were confidently staking their money- Adebayor contrived to pick up a mystery 'stomach bug' and was sat down for the first hour of the game. What followed was a lamentable Toga display, one that veered from early comical profligacy in front of goal to a progressivly listless and largely aimless effort once the Congolese took the lead. When Adebayor finally took to the field he was unable to significantly influence proceedings. The scenes after the game, including a heated exchange between Keshi and Adebayor on the team bus, will have done little to quell the growing furore in Lome and elsewhere. What is unclear is just what effect the turmoil will have on the team for the rest of the competition. Will Adebayor leave the camp or can the striker and his coach put their differences to one side? Will the traumas of the opening game now galvanise the team, or further splinter an already fractious situation? Whatever happens from here, the Togo team has become so unbackable in the market that only those with a granite stomach should now consider parting with their hard-earned Communaute Financiere Africaines.

The Togo situation is an interesting one. The national team have undergone a quiet revolution under the tenure of Stephen Keshi as coach, reaching their first ever World Cup and squeezing out Senegal in the process. They are a well-organised and hard-working team, built around a miserly defence that leaked just 8 goals in 10 qualifying matches. Prior to this tournament Toga had a growing reputation that always looked incongruous to their pre-ACN odds. Perhaps the market sensed trouble on the horizon, or more likely it had taken note of a poor friendly tournament performance in Tehran. The side finished last behind Paraguay, Iran and Macedonia and Keshi had lambasted the FA for severe unprofessionalism. I had been willing to brush this aside when making an assessment of Toga's chances here, hoping the situation would not be revisited in the ACN. In hindsight, I have learnt another rule when evaluating a team. That is to say...Never underestimate the destabilizing effect that behind-the-scenes problems can have on a team!

posted by Trilby at 2:19 pm
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This blog is written by a thirtysomething man who awoke one day to a startling epiphany. If you spend thirty years of your life playing, watching, listening, reading and debating football, the chances are, football is all that you will know.


This is a blog about a thirtysomething man who awoke one day to a startling epiphany. If you spend thirty years of your life playing, watching, listening, reading and debating football, then chances are, football is all that you will know.


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This blog is written by a thirtysomething man who awoke one day to a startling epiphany. If you spend thirty years of your life playing, watching, listening, reading and debating football, the chances are, football is all that you will know.


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