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No-show sees Togo disqualified

Uncertainty over Togo's involvement in the African Nations Cup was ended last night when the team failed to appear for their opening match against Ghana.

The players headed home from Angola on Sunday after a gun attack on their team bus, which left three people reportedly dead last Friday, but there were then reports they could return and participate in the event.

The event's organisers have been largely silent on the matter but a Confederation of African Football official said yesterday afternoon that if Togo were not on the pitch come kick-off for their first game, they would be out of the competition.

"Togo have not taken official steps to come back and play the African Nations Cup," he said. "The referee has received the order to blow the starting whistle and, if the Togolese players are not there, they will have lost and will be disqualified."

Togo's sports minister, Christophe Tchao, was quoted as saying a formal request had been made to return but prime minister Gilbert Houngbo denied this, saying: "We withdrew our team on the basis they have been the victim of a terrorist attack."