23 May 2006
Any player of the Togolese National team that speaks to the Korean press may be barred from taking part in the 2006 World cup tournament. Junior Senaya (Togo’s midfielder) was quoted as saying. Togo and South Korea are scheduled to play on June 13th in their opening Group G match. “The head coach said he would not let us play in the games if we answer your questions” Senaya told the South Korean Ilgan Sports daily. The German-born coach Otto Pfister was even reported to have told the players not to talk to Japanese and Chinese obviously because of their physical resemblance to Koreans. These type of precautions point to the fact that these are desperate times for the Togolese who are widely seen as the lame duck of group G.
Many football analysts agree that the odds against Togo in their first ever world cup match are overwhelming. This small West African Nation (pop. 5.6m) has limited football credentials even at the level of the African continent. On a psychological level, the outcome of the match with Korea is very crucial and determinant. If S. Korea were to thrash Togo especially with a large goal margin, the floodgates may be open for the other teams in the group to harvest baskets of goals from such a demoralized newcomer. If on the other hand, Togo maintains at least a draw with S. Korea, the psychological barrier would have been broken to enable them face future challenges.
The game of football depends on skills and to some extent luck. It will be wrong to say anything conclusively about the match before the end of ninety minutes of play.
Njei Moses Timah