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Togo's Adebayor threatens to quit

CAIRO, Egypt -- Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor said he intended leaving the African Nations Cup on Sunday after a row with coach Stephen Keshi.

The new Arsenal signing refused to play in the starting line-up for the World Cup finalists in Saturday's 2-0 defeat by the Democratic Republic of Congo in their opening Group B match.

Additionally the Congolese said they had been on strike for most of the day, intent on not playing the match unless they received promised bonus payments.

Captain Lomana LuaLua told reporters they had only agreed to go ahead after a personal phone call from the country's president, Joseph Kabila.

An agitated Adebayor said he had been dropped from the Togo side on Saturday morning, accusing Keshi of trying to pressure him into using him as his agent.

"I told him no, I don't work that way. Then later he said he wanted me to play but I refused."

Adebayor, the top African goalscorer in last year's World Cup qualifiers, had been included in the starting line-up, released to the media one hour before the match.

When he did not appear, a handwritten statement handed out by Confederation of African Football press officials after the start said the change was made because of a "digestive problem".

Adebayor came on in the 59th minute for Adekanmi Olufade, who had initially not been included in the starting lineup

"I am going home, I want to see my mother in Lome who is ill," he said before refusing to answer any more questions.

Earlier, Keshi also denied any stomach problems had been behind the sudden change of starting line-up.

"This morning I decided not to play him. He wasn't happy. I then changed my mind and told him he was going to start but he said he wouldn't play.

"The problem was that he wasn't in training. I took a decision and he didn't like it and he decided to stay on the bench. He didn't want to start."

Togo's Austrian-based defender Eric Akoto said he was among five players who had pleaded with Adebayor to play.

Best player

"We all went to talk to him. He's the best player we've got, we desperately needed him to play. He is a player who makes a lot of chances.

"It's very bad for us. He said later that he would only play in the second half.

"I know the reasons why he didn't want to play but that is up to the coach to say. But we missed him. We had one great chance in the first half that he would have scored."

The dramatic unfurling of Togo's pre-match problems followed revelations of Congo's strike threat.

Coach Claude LeRoy went on stage at the post-match press conference and declared: "The players came to me at 5am this morning and said they did not want to play.

"There are people in the government who do not respect our players," he added in a reference to sports ministry officials who traditionally are responsible for team finances.

"They had not received any of their bonus payments but just 10 minutes before the match the head of state called me on my mobile and promised to solve the issue. I passed the phone to the captain (LuaLua) who told the players."

The Portsmouth striker added: "We were on strike till about 2 o'clock this afternoon before we decided to play. As captain it was very difficult for me. I had a headache.

"But we decided to play for the people of Congo and for the fans who had traveled all this way."

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