Reuters Soccer Blog
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African Nations Cup organisers will be bundle of nerves over the next 24 hours, contemplating the fate of host nation in the tournament.
Angola blew a phenomenal four goal lead in Sunday’s opening match against Mali and now look vulnerable to the prospect of early elimination if they fail to beat Malawi on Thursday (1830 GMT).
The 50,000 spectators at the new November 11 Stadium were stunned by the capitulation of their team, seemingly coasting home to the most positive of starts with just over 10 minutes to go before collapsing like a deck of cards and handing Mali an improbable point in a 4-4 draw.
Classic watching for the neutrals but heartbreak for the locals, and real concern for the organisers.
The bloody attack on Togo’s team bus in Angola is a huge tragedy for African football and like it or not, has cast a shadow over the World Cup in South Africa in five months time — the biggest sports event ever staged on the continent.
It is highly debatable whether the attack, which killed two members of the Togolese delegation as they arrived for the African Nations Cup and forced the squad’s evacuation on Sunday, really increases the risk to teams and spectators in South Africa.
UPDATE: The death toll has risen to three. The bus driver died on Friday and an assistant coach and press officer died on Saturday. Togo appear to have pulled out.
African Nations Cup organisers are adamant that the tournament will go ahead in Angola despite Friday’s ambush of the Togo team bus.
Hosting major sports events is usually seen as a golden opportunity to showcase the country, improve the infrastructure and attract foreign visitors. Angola, which has spent an estimated $1 billion to stage this month’s African Nations Cup, seems to be an exception.
Rather perversely, the former Portuguese colony appears to be doing little to help foreign visitors get in. From my own experience, Angola has not eased its byzantine visa regulations for would-be Nations Cup visitors. Accredited journalists are among those who have missed out because the promised Letter of Invitation from the organising committee — necessary to get the treasured visa — was either sent too late or went to the embassy in the wrong country.