Toronto, Canada – CABINDA, Angola (Reuters) - Togo's soccer team has decided to play in the African Nations Cup following a deadly attack on the squad, even though its government has withdrawn the side, French sports newspaper L'Equipe reported on Sunday.
L'Equipe quoted midfielder Alaixys Romao as saying the team had agreed to stay in the Angolan enclave of Cabinda for its first Group B match against Ghana on Monday.
"The decision was taken unanimously," said Romao, who plays for French club side Grenoble.
Rebels of the Cabindan separatist group FLEC sprayed the Togolese team bus with gunfire on Friday, killing the driver and wounding nine others. Two members of Togo's soccer delegation died on Saturday and one was undergoing surgery in South Africa.
A Togolese minister said on Saturday that the government had decided to pull the team out of the tournament, which starts on Sunday, because of "this dramatic situation."
But L'Equipe quoted Romao as saying: "We have just had a meeting of the whole delegation and we will be on the pitch on Monday to face Ghana."
Officials of the team and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) were not immediately available for comment.
"People have died for the African Nations Cup, others have been injured. We can't let them down and leave like cowards," said Romao.
"If we stay here it's for them but also not to give any satisfaction to the rebels. Our government does not necessarily agree with us but we are all determined to play this competition."
(Reporting by Julien Pretot in Cabinda, writing by David Stamp' editing by Ken Ferris)