Togo hold their nerves to qualify
A goal each from Wome Dove and Emmanuel Adebayor helped Togo to a 2-1 win and most importantly a 3-2 aggregate scoreline over Gabon at the Stade de Kégué in Lome on Sunday evening.
The result enabled them to qualify for the next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, but the Togolese had to hold their nerves as Daniel Cousin had given Gabon a glimmer of hope with a late strike.
Heading into this encounter the tie between Togo and Gabon was finely balanced with the aggregate score at 1-1. Togo had the advantage because of their away goal.
After holding the Panthers to that draw in the first leg played in Libreville on September 8, the Sparrow Hawks need a minimum of a goalless draw to make their dream of reaching South Africa come true.
The home fans were in full voice when their side took the lead with just under ten minutes of the first half remaining.
Wome Dove made the breakthrough for the hosts in the 34th minute.
It put them 2-1 up on aggregate but didn't actually change things too much for Gabon at the time because they only needed to score one goal to avoid going out.
Togo headed into the break in the ascendancy. But the tie remained in the balance. This encounter was certainly not a foregone conclusion at the interval.
Fifteen minutes into the second half the Togolese crowd was in party mood once again when Emmanuel Adebayor doubled Togo's lead and his side now had one foot in the African tournament next year. They led 3-1 on aggregate.
In the dying minutes of the match Gabon gave themselves a lifeline in the 80th minute thanks to a goal from Daniel Cousin.
They still trailed 3-2 on aggregate, but they had a glimmer of hope that they could complete their comeback in the last 10 minutes of the game.
This win means Togo progress to the final tournament draw in Durban later this month.
Togo last participated in the continental showpiece in 2006, pulling out of the 2010 edition following a gunfire attack on the team’s bus that left three people dead and nine others injured including goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale.