Togo shames Africa at World Cup

12 June 2006 at 09:39 | 1411 views

By Abu B. Shaw, Vanguard London Bureau Chief

One of the main topics of discussion at the ongoing World Cup in Germany is about the
comings and goings of Togo’s national football managers.

Sports commentators likened this extraordinary scenario to commuters in a busy train station.
Within the past six months alone, two football managers have left Togo and a
new one is about to take the hot seat.

Otto Pfister, the veteran German coach, who took charge of the Hawks,
Togolese national football team in February, tendered his letter of
resignation in Germany on Saturday night June 10 after a protracted pay
dispute involving the players and the Togo Football Association.

The 68-year-old coach stormed out of the team’s hotel in Wangen in the
aftermath of an unexpected player strike at training. “I have resigned
without notice. The players boycotted three closed training sessions and
with that my basis to work has been removed,” Mr. Pfister disclosed. He
blamed the Togo Football Association for plunging the team into this chaos.

Assistant coach, Kodjovi Mawuena, a Togolese national has in the interim
taken over the Hawks of Togo and he is expected to lead the team to their
first match against South Korea on Tuesday June 13.

All started four months ago when the players asked the Togo FA for 80,000
each to play in the competition, plus an additional 20,000 for each player
for every victory. The hard-up Togo FA quickly agreed but later rescinded.

Mr. Pfister confirmed that when he took over the Hawks, the Togo FA promised
that bonuses for the players would be honoured. “That is still not the case,
so I decided to quit immediately. It’s a professional decision. I will not
be at the World Cup. I’m not going to let myself be messed around any
longer. It has destroyed a dream of my life,” the veteran coach lamented.

The sacking of coaches is not a new phenomenon in Togo. When Togo
underperformed at the African Nations Cup in Egypt late last year, Stephen
Keshi, the coach who led the Hawks to their first World Cup finals, was
sacked. Keshi, Nigeria’s former national team skipper was replaced by Otto

Latest report has confirmed that the Togo FA is in talks with former
Cameroon coach Winfred Schaefer(photo) to succeed Otto Pfister. The German coach
has agreed to take over Togo provided the FA agrees to pay the bonuses to
the players.

Argentina pips Ivory Coast; Portugal beats Angola

Hot favourite Argentina went the extra mile on Saturday June 10 to stop the
Elephants of Ivory Coast from overturning the 2-1 deficit. Chelsea’s Hernan
Crespo opened the scoring from close range mid way through the first half
and his Argentine team mate Saviola added the second seven minutes before
half time.

Ivory Coast’s talismanic captain Didier Drogba, who also plays for English
Champions Chelsea, netted the consolation goal during the last eight minutes
of the match. This Group C match has been dubbed the best encounter so far
in the World Cup.

The next game for Ivory Coast against the Orange Boys of Holland this Friday
June 16 is a must win for the Elephants to have any chance of going through
to the second round. Group C is really the group of death.

In Group D, Angola lost narrowly to mighty Portugal on Sunday June 11.
Portugal’s Pauleta scored the only goal of the match in the fourth minute.
But the Angolans played real entertaining football which put their former
colonial master at knife’s edge.

Angola needs to beats Mexico on Friday June 16 if they are to have any
chance to progress to the next round.

In other World Cup matches England beats Paraquay 1-0; Ecuador pips Poland
2-0; Sweden drew 0-0 with Trindad & Tobago; Holland whips Serbia &
Montenegro 1-0.