Adebayor trying to keep Togo's run alive
RUSTENBURG, South Africa (AP) -Emmanuel Adebayor will lead Togo against Burkina Faso in their quarterfinal at the African Cup of Nations on Sunday looking to show the continent that his team didn't make it past the tournament's toughest group by accident.
Togo advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time from a group that included tournament favorite Ivory Coast and North African powerhouses Algeria and Tunisia, and now Adebayor believes his team has what it takes to contend for the title.
Burkina Faso too is exceeding expectations. It was first in its group ahead of two-time champion Nigeria and defending champion Zambia, reaching the second round for the first time since a fourth-place finish as hosts in 1998.
The will play Sunday at Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit, with the winner advancing to a semifinal against the winner of Saturday's quarterfinals between Ghana and newcomer Cape Verde in Port Elizabeth.
"We are 90 minutes away from something extraordinary, the semifinal at the African Cup of Nations, we have to be focused,'' said Adebayor, the team's captain and biggest star. "I'm happy because all the players are committed, they know they are preparing for something that can be extraordinary for Togo.''
The Western African nation had failed to advance in its previous seven participations.
"I told the players that they had already written an important page of history for Togolese football,'' Togo coach Didier Six said. "But also that there is still some room to write more and that we should play it 100 percent.''
Togo arrived in South Africa marred by controversies, including Adebayor's threat not to play because of a dispute with the Togo Football Federation over security arrangements and bonuses.
Just three years ago Togo faced a tragedy before the African Cup in Angola, when two people were killed in a gun attack on the team bus and reserve Goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale was seriously injured.
"We want to do this for Togo and we are in position to do it,'' Adebayor said.
"We are in the quarterfinals but I can't be satisfied with that,'' the Tottenham striker added. "My goal is to win the cup, I'm not here to stop at the quarters.''
Togo opened with a last-minute loss to Didier Drogba's Ivory Coast, then rebounded with a 2-0 win over Algeria and advanced after a 1-1 draw with Tunisia in a match marked by controversies involving the refereeing. Tunisia missed a potentially game-winning penalty in the second half.
"We have to try to recover because it was a tough game,'' Adebayor said. "We left everything on the field.''
Burkina Faso drew Nigeria 1-1, routed Ethiopia 4-0 and played Zambia to a scoreless draw to secure first place in the group and reach the quarterfinals for just the second time in team history.
"We have the mentality that we can keep advancing,'' Burkina Faso coach Paul Put said.
Burkina Faso will have an extra challenge to overcome on Sunday as leading scorer Alain Traore has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament after hurting his thigh early in the match against Zambia. The Lorient forward left as the team's leading scorer thanks to his three goals in the group stage.
Burkina Faso drew Nigeria 1-1, routed Ethiopia 4-0 and played Zambia to a scoreless draw to secure first place and reach the quarterfinals for the second time in team history.
"It certainly will be a tough match,'' Adebayor said. "There are no easy games. We saw the quality of Burkina Faso after the draw against Nigeria. They have quality players.''
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