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Qlamqtar 2022 FIFA World Cup | Team Profile | TOGO: What bus attack?


The Qlamqtar 2022 World Cup is only about 7 moons away (depending on your own set of lunar circumstances) and the first ever World Cup held in the Arab world promises to be a real doozy. World Cup history is a tale resplendent with stories of triumph against the odds, childhood dreams coming true and unsung heroes becoming legends. As well as dumb idiot losers, wanker fuck ups and teams that are just total bullshit.

But how shall ye learn about these legends, losers and teams that are just total bullshit? Well look no further my wayward friend as I profile all 211 FIFA nations eligible for World Cup qualification. Today, I take a look at Togo, which has qualified for the World Cup once, in 2006.

Missing: 1 flag, seen once at a World Cup, never to be seen at another

What bus attack?

If this team had really been the target of fatal ambush by machine gun-yielding guerrillas, would they really be this happy?

Nickname: The Sparrowhawks
FIFA Ranking: 121 (Mar 2022)

FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualification result: Failed to advance from second round (CAF), finishing behind DR Senegal

At the start of 2010, excitement and anticipation among African football fans was at fever pitch, as the continent geared up to host its biggest event ever, the FIFA World Cup, due to be held in South Africa that June. First however, came the small matter of the Africa Cup of Nations, to be held in Angola in January. So it’s a real good thing that with just 5 months to go till kickoff at Africa’s biggest ever moment in the sporting spotlight, a group of 15 separatist guerrillas didn’t stop the team bus carrying the Togo national from DR Congo to Angola and pump the vehicle with machine gun fire for twenty minutes, killing three and injuring others, including a pair of Togolese players. It was just such a relief that such a thing never occurred.

These tragic scenes of Togo’s traumatised players and staff after 2010’s terrifying bus attack never happened

Can you imagine the PR nightmare and international backlash from FIFA that tournament organisers and the African Football Confederation (CAF) would have faced, if on the eve of the first World Cup ever to be held on the continent, a band of fighters from the Front for the Liberation of Cabinda (FLEC) had unleashed a barrage of machine gun fire on a bus carrying one of the competing teams and its staff ? Just picture how the scores of football fans getting ready to travel to the World Cup would have reacted if such a thing as an onslaught of heavy fire was unleashed on a competing team that resulted in the deaths of two team members and the driver of the vehicle. And you could you just see the international media having a feeding frenzy and going to town on Africa and World Cup host nation South Africa, where security concerns had already been a point of concern, and whose merits, credentials and infrastructural capabilities of hosting the world’s largest sporting event had already been called into serious question. That’s why it’s so lucky that such a tragic event never happened, and the Togolese team were never ambushed by insane gunmen and been targets of a barbaric slaughter. Phew, Africa sure dodged a bullet there, pun intended!

Didier Drogba talks about his fear of him and his team being ‘shot like rabbits’ replying to a tongue-in-cheek question from an interviewer asking him about his biggest pet hates and phobias, not in response to the deadly attack on his Togolese counterparts by an offshoot of the terrorist group FELC

It was so fortunate that the Togolese team–African soccer’s newest darlings after having remarkably qualified for their first ever World Cup only 4 years earlier–were not nearly all slayed by maniacal guerrillas in cold blood by the side of the road, because AFCON 2010 was able to go ahead just like nothing happened (which, nothing did happen). It was great that CAF didn’t sweep a catastrophic tragedy under the rug, and it was so heartwarming that they then didn’t ban Togo for the next 2 AFCONS either, due to them withdrawing from the tournament (presumably not for bus massacre-related reasons).

Wow, the Sparrowhawks should thank their lucky stars because not every team is touched so blessedly by the oft-cruel hands of fortune.

Thankfully, due to CAF’s and Angola flawless organisation and security measures, this burial never happened

One to watch: The Togo umbrella that was in the lobby of my apartment building during AFCON 2021

Now, I’m not a superstitious kind of person, but in January this year, all of a sudden, right in the middle of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, an umbrella was left in the lobby of my apartment block. And it wasn’t just any umbrella, it was a goddamn TOGO UMBRELLA!

Okay yeah sure, Togo, as usual suck, meaning no duh that they weren’t one of the 24 teams at t his year’s AFCON in Cameroon (even though teams like Malawi, Guinea-Bissau and The Gambia were), when was the last time you saw an African nation-themed umbrella lying around in your building’s lobby?? And when have you ever seen one with the flag of Togo on it?? And what are the chances that it was left or lost in my lobby during the Africa Cup of Nations??!!

I mean, shit yeah!!! Togo have pretty much had the worst fall of any of the World Cup qualifying nations over the last couple decades, but if this ain’t a sign that better things are just around the corner, I don’t know what is! Not sure exactly what the stunning, sudden, God-sent appearance of this Togo umbrella means for the Sparrowhawks but rest assured, it’s gotta mean something! Right? I mean, c’mon! What are the chances?! In my lobby!!

So normally I would say, chin up Togo, because the sudden appearance of a Togo umbrella should portend more fortuitous times ahead, but alas, just as I was enjoying seeing the Togo umbrella sitting atop the mail box in the lobby of my place, it suddenly disappeared! Was it stolen? Was it reclaimed by its rightful owner? Was it taken by another enamoured fan of the umbrella like me, a person who wasn’t content just gazing at it in all its glory while going up and down the stairs to take the dog out 3 times a day like I was and needed the Togo umbrella and all the spoils that entails for themselves? Either way, the disappearance came while AFCON 2021 was still in progress–nearing the semi-final stage if I recall correctly– and it came amid an AFCON that Togo not only failed to qualify for, but finished bottom of their group, behind Egypt, Comoros and even Kenya, so I don’t know really… is the Togo umbrella’s sudden messianic appearance and then its unforeseen vanishing a good or a bad omen for the Togo national team?

The burning question still remains though, whose Togo umbrella was it? Was it the cleaning lady’s (who comes about once a week)? Was it my girlfriend’s–had she secretly purchased a Togo umbrella just in time for AFCON 2021 without telling me? Was it perhaps a member of the Togo national team’s, in Spain for a holiday, and staying in my apartment building, looking for a place away from the AFCON spotlight where they won’t have the fact that they hadn’t qualified for AFCON 2021 rubbed in their faces? Was it perhaps a shared Togo umbrella belonging to the entire Togo national team squad and staff? Was the entire Togo national playing squad, staff and admin personnel perhaps staying in my apartment? There’s really no way of knowing.

In any case, results are coming your way, Togo! Whether good or bad, I don’t really know, but get ready for results of some sort, Togo fans!!

Here’s another look at the umbrella

The Highpoint: Group Stage, FIFA World Cup 2006

In 2006 Togo remarkably joined fellow African debutantes Angola at the FIFA World Cup in Germany. It was a monumental achievement for the tiny nation, which overcame 2002 surprise packets and quarter finalists Senegal to book their place. The good times would pretty much end there though, because despite leading Korea Republic in their opener in Frankfurt, their entire campaign would soon completely unravel, because following their opening strike, they proceeded to then have a man sent off just 20 minutes later and concede two goals and drop all 3 points to Koreans. Next, they threatened not to play their second match vs Switzerland due to unpaid player payments, eventually played it and lost 2-0, and then they ultimately got dropped easily by France in their last match, which sent them packing and basically never to be heard of on the international stage again.

The 2006 World Cup was a rockin’ time while it lasted Togo, but after another dreadfully disappointing campaign in World Cup 2022 qualifying, things be lookin’ pretty grim for the Sparrowhawks, ya hear? But all hope is not totally lost–just check out One to Watch above… You see? There’s a still a glimmer, Togo! Preach!

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In 2015, Police in Lomé seized over four tons of elephant tusks, the largest haul since the 1990 commercial ban on Ivory trade came into effect

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