Wednesday, September 7, 2011

7 September 2010 - Togo Or Not Togo, That Is The Question

On 7 September 2010, Bahrain secured a 3-0 win over Togo. Or so they thought.

The friendly, played in Bahrain, was their third match under new manager, Josef Hickersberger, who was still waiting for his first win after draws with China and Qatar. And Bahrain thought they got it in convincing fashion with a brace from striker Jaycee Okwunwanne (9', 45') and a penalty kick from striker Ismail Abdul-Latif (67').

Afterward, in fact, Hickersberger lamented the lack of competition from Togo, saying "They were not fit enough to play 90 minutes; the match was very boring, and basically it was not good for us because we wanted to get information about the strength of our team, especially playing with many of our professionals. This was a wasted opportunity on a FIFA date, and I’m very sad about it." And then things got strange.

Christophe Chao, the Togo sports minister, denied that any Togo team ever took the pitch against Bahrain, claiming that nobody in Togo had been informed of such a game. Moreover, none of the 18 people listed on the pre-match roster submitted to Bahrain minutes before the match was a Togo international.

As it turned out, a Togo assistant coach named Tchanile Bana organized the match and falsely represented the team as Togo's national side. He had committed a similar fraud earlier in the year by organizing a match against Egypt without the knowledge or consent of the Togolese authorities. He had received a two-year ban from all football activities after that match, which Togo extended to three years after learning of his involvement in the match against Bahrain.

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