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Togo: It was a Miracle They Played at All

The New York Times was surprised that Togo actually produced some good-looking soccer in its 2-1 defeat yesterday to South Korea. This, too, despite a host of off-field problems, including disputes over player bonuses and a coach who can't seem to decide whether or not he wants to quit. Togolese players boycotted practice last week after learning they would not receive $200,000 in bonuses with additional payments of $39,000 per victory and $20,000 per draw. They also threatened to strike prior to the match with South Korea, but the players took the field nevertheless, and put in a spirited effort against the 2002 semifinalists. In fact, Togo looked likely to win it, had its captain not been sent off early in the second half for a second bookable offense. This business of striking nearly happened with Cameroon in 1994, when he Lions felt entitled to higher bonuses following their success in 1990. This did little to help the Cameroonian cause, however, as indifferent performances saw them routed 3-0 by the Brazilians and then 6-1 by the Russians. Togo coach Otto Pfister quit because the players refused to play after they were told they would not be receiving their bonuses by the Togolese Prime Minister. Apparently he came back after the players pleaded with him to return.

Read the whole story at The New York Times »

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