Salifou disgusted by Togo ban

The Villa player is adamant the Confederation of African Football

(CAF) would not have taken this course of action had one of the

leading countries such as Cameroon or Ivory Coast adopted the same

approach. The 26-year-old even feels the 2010 competition would not

have gone ahead had a major nation experienced the trauma of a

terrorist attack. Three people were killed in the attack by gunmen

shortly after the Togo coach had crossed the border into the

Angolan enclave of Cabinda on January 8. He said: “If we had

returned to the tournament, there were going to be no sanctions

against Togo. Now they (CAF) say we have a four-year ban. “They

treat us like they have because we are a small country. If it had

been Cameroon or the Ivory Coast, nobody is going to say they are

banned from two African Nations Cups. “Because it is Togo, a small

country, they have banned us. “Have we been picked on? Yes, I think

so. If the crime had been against Cameroon or the Ivory Coast, they

would never have played the African Nations Cup. “When it is a

small country like Togo, it is not the same although I believe we

are appealing the decision.” Salifou was speaking in public at

Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training complex for the first time since

the fatal attack, and has echoed the sentiments of many of his

team-mates in believing he was going to die during the 30-minute

assault. He said: “We crossed the boundary into Angola after being

given assurances the road was safe but after 15 minutes people

started to shoot at the coach. “The Angolan government told us

everything is OK in their country. If they had told us it was not

safe, we would have flown in. “The attackers shot the driver and

after two or three minutes all the players had to lie on the floor

and everyone was just crying. We had to wait for 30 minutes. “I did

not feel I would make it off that bus alive. We had to lie on the

floor and the gunshots passed over our heads. There was blood on

the floor of the coach. “To be honest, I was thinking everyone was

going to die in the coach. God saved us and then some security guys

started shooting back.” Salifou was also visibly moved when he went

to visit some of the wounded Togo players and personnel in

hospital. He said: “We went to the hospital and our goalkeeper said

‘we are here for football and look what has happened now’. “He said

‘if I die now, who is going to look after my family?’. Everyone

started to cry.” Salifou has received great support from the Villa

management and players since returning to England although he has

still yet to resume playing. He said: “The fans chant my name at

games and it is a good feeling for me and all I can say is thank

you to the fans and everybody. “I feel so much for the people who

have died and been injured. I have to move on from this but it is

not easy. “I have been training and I watched the Carling Cup

semi-final against Blackburn and the Arsenal game last week. “I

have to start playing again at some stage.”