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Thursday, February 25, 2010
Togo keeper Obilale makes emotional plea

Togo goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale has issued an emotional appeal for help returning home, admitting that his continued stay in South Africa is crushing his spirit.

Obilale has been in hospital in South Africa since he was airlifted there following the fatal machine-gun attack on the Togo team as they travelled to the African Nations Cup.

The 25-year-old, who was initially reported as dead by his team-mates, has been given the green light to return to France and the Kerpape rehabilitation centre, but Angola are refusing to pay the repatriation costs for the Pontivy goalkeeper.

"I don't have any morale left,'' Obilale told French radio station RTL. "It's been a month and a half now that I've been in bed here. My life is to turn left or turn right.

"I'm scared of getting worse because what I'm experiencing at night is horrible, I see the soldiers, I'm going to war as I'm going to the Cup. Every night I experience this in my sleep. And there's no-one here that's giving me any news. The great desire is to go back home.

"The Angolans tell me they are waiting for the word from the doctors but every day I see the doctor who operated on me and he says it's okay. The big problem is that they can't pay the repatriation costs. It's that that's breaking my morale.''

"People from the Angolan government came here with flowers but I don't know what I'm meant to do with them. I have no house to put them in. I just want to go home. To be next to my children and those closest to me, that's all I'm asking for.

"They shot at me, now today they can't repatriate me. That's why I'm making this appeal so that people can help me leave this hospital bed.''

Obilale's partner and sister are by his bedside thanks to Manchester City striker and Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor, who financed their trip.

Pontivy president Philippe Le Mestre has also slammed the Angolan government, adding that as organisers they "promised to pay for everything but nothing is forthcoming''.

It is the latest blow for the Togo team and will surely lead to more criticism on how the incident has been dealt with. The country's federation are currently embroiled in an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against their ban from the next two editions of the African Nations Cup.

Togo were banned by the Confederation of African Football following their withdrawal from this year's tournament in the wake of the attack on their team bus, in which an assistant coach and the team's press officer - plus a driver - were killed.

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