Aston Villa and Togo Star Moustapha Salifou Is "Lucky To Be Alive"

Yoosof FarahSenior Writer IIIJanuary 9, 2010

After seeing his teammates and friends shot at, and some of the staff he worked with killed, Aston Villa and Togo midfielder Moustapha Salifou said he is "lucky to be alive."

The shooting, which happened in the Cabinda region of Angola and was claimed to be responsible by the FLEC (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda), has threatened to severely disrupt or even cancel the African Cup of Nations.

Following the devastating attack, Salifou told the Aston Villa official club website , "Our security people saved us. They were in two cars, about 10 of them in total, and they returned fire."

"The shooting lasted for half an hour and I could hear the bullets whistling past me. It was like a movie."

"It was only 15 minutes after we crossed the border into Angola that we came under heavy fire. The driver was shot almost immediately and died instantly so we were just stopped on the road with nowhere to go," Salifou wrote.

"I know I am really lucky to be alive. I was in the back of the coach with Emmanuel Adebayor and one of the goalkeepers. A defender sat in front of me took two shots in the back."

"The goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale Dodo, one of my best friends, was shot in the stomach and was flown to South Africa to undergo an operation to save his life. It was horrific. Everybody was crying. I don't know how anyone can do this," Salifou continued.

"I am back at our camp in Cabinda with my teammates but we all want to go home to Togo. We have made our decision. We can't play in these circumstances and want to leave for home. We don't want to compete in the tournament because our assistant manager and the press officer have been killed. As a team we have made this decision."

Aston Villa manager Martin O'Neill has spoken to Salifou since the incident, and says the midfielder is in a state of shock.

"He's obviously very shaken up but he's fine," he said. "He's unhurt but pretty upset by it all—but physically he's okay."

When asked if he ever expected an incident such as this, O'Neill added, "No I didn't. I know that there was an incident with the England cricket team not so long ago I think in Sri Lanka, there was certainly a cricketing incident. But I wasn't really expecting anything like this at all."

"So as I said he's pretty shaken but he's unhurt and that's the most important thing," O'Neill said.

The Villa boss also added he would welcome the early return of Salifou from the tournament.

"I'd love to see Moustapha back," he remarked. "He's a great character and he's very, very popular with the players."