Lome, Togo: Togo's soccer team forward said on Sunday the team is leaving Angola after its government recalled them from the African Cup of Nations tournament, accusing host Angola of failing to protect the players following a deadly ambush on their bus.
The players themselves had earlier said they wanted to stay and compete in honor of the dead, who included their assistant coach, a team spokesman and the Angolan bus driver.
"We fully understand our government's decision to leave because they didn't receive enough guarantees for our security," forward Thomas Dossevi said.
"We as players, we wanted to stay to honor the memory of our dead people, but both positions are understandable."
Togo's Prime Minister Gilbert Houngbo said that the country's presidential plane is in Angola to take the team back to Lome, Togo's capital. He said that it would take some time to get them back, as they have to accommodate the wounded.
Dossevi said all team members would go to Lome together before rejoining their respective soccer clubs.
The Togo team was ambushed Friday in an attack blamed on militants fighting for the independence of Cabinda, killing three and injuring eight.
Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor told local station Radio Ecclesia the team tried to stay, but "we are children of the Togo and we will abide by the decision of our government."
Togo's prime minister reiterated the government's decision to demand the team withdraw from the tournament.
"Angola and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) have not taken adequate security measures to ensure the safety of the Togolese national team," Houngbo said. "We still stand by our decision to demand the return of our national team from Angola. Nothing has reversed that decision."
With tournament officials declaring the tournament will start on schedule today, and with Togo's Group B matches to be played in restive Cabinda, the tour party was met there yesterday by most of the top officials of the CAF, who implored Togo to stay.
CAF president Issa Hayatou said he'd received a guarantee from Angola Prime Minister Antonio Paulo Kassoma that security would be beefed up for all teams and at all venues.
The Angolan government built a new stadium in Cabinda for pool play in the African Cup.