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Friday, June 23, 2006
Togo coach dreams of World Cup upset

Togo's crazy debut World Cup campaign comes to an end today with a Group G clash with France - and coach Otto Pfister is not writing off his team's chances of creating another sensation, this time on the pitch.

Not many coaches quit their post as a World Cup tournament gets underway - Pfister did before returning to the reins in time for his team's opening 2-1 defeat at the hands of South Korea.

And not many teams threaten not to travel to a World Cup match and then to boycott it - Togo did before the Switzerland match which the Swiss eventually won 2-0 to eliminate the Africans.

France are on paper hot favourites to claim the victory they need - ideally by two goals - to secure their last-16 berth.

However, Pfister is hoping the team's ability to do the unexpected could strike again with perhaps a first ever World Cup point for the debutants - a point that would also mean elimination for Les Bleus.

Pfister said: 'It's true that we are now eliminated from the competition.

'But we will now try and go out by giving our best against a France team that eight years ago won the World Cup.'

Admitting the events so far in Germany had not portrayed Togolese football in the best of lights, Pfister continued: 'We are at a World Cup and this match is very important for the image of our football.'

Pfister has indicated he will change his team, having vowed after the Switzerland match to ensure as many of his players as possible will have some World Cup experience.

Speaking after the Switzerland match, Pfister said: 'We came here with 23 players.

'And ideally I would like to give them all some experience.'

The only two certainties are that Ludovic Assemoassa, whose injured cruciate ligaments will keep him out until 2007, and the suspended Alaixys Romao will not play.

Skipper Jean-Paul Abalo, suspended against the Swiss, could return in central defence after being sent off against Korea for a professional foul on Park Ji-sung.

Abalo was the man who, acting as spokesman, said on the eve of the Switzerland match that the team would boycott the match if they were not paid.

They eventually played after receiving assurances and according to media reports now they have received at least some of the money.




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