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Mr. Gayle

Fake Togo Team

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AN INQUIRY has been launched by the Bahrain Football Association (BFA) into allegations that a "fake" Togo national team played against the kingdom's squad in an international friendly match last Tuesday.

The tie took place at the National Stadium in Riffa, and Bahrain won easily 3-0.

The result raised doubts about the team fielded by the visitors, while Togo sports minister Christophe Tchao was quoted as saying that they were not aware that such a tie had been scheduled. "Nobody here has even been informed of such a game," Tchao said.

A member of the BFA reportedly claimed that the Togo team was "fake", and that the match was sold to Bahrain by "a fake footballer's agent".

"The very bad game of the Togolese players surprised us, but then to discover that we had been dealing with a fake team was incredible," said the BFA member, who was not named.

However, a BFA spokesperson told the GDN last night that all the preparations for the match went through the right channels, and the game was even approved by Fifa, who do their own checks of preparations prior to officially sanctioned friendly matches.

Nonetheless, the BFA are conducting their own inquiry into the matter.

"When we organise such friendly games, we always go through the proper channels," the BFA spokesman told the GDN after agreeing to speak on condition of anonymity.

"This particular match was arranged through an agent who we have been dealing with the last few years. In the past, all our business with him were 100 per cent all right; he is a very professional agent who arranges games, training camps, referees, etc," the BFA spokesman explained.

"Even for this game with Togo, as per all the letters and paperwork we received, along with the players' passports, etc, they were all official documents from Togo's football federation.

"Everything seemed to be in order, until after the game when we began to hear that some people are wondering about these players and this Togo team. We ourselves were surprised when we heard this.

"On our end, we have all the proper papers and we have the approval from Fifa. We have raised this issue with the agent concerned, and he is cooperating with us. We are now awaiting his reply, and we will act accordingly upon receiving this."

The BFA spokesperson added that Togo may have simply fielded a reserve team, as their best squad may have played in their qualifying match against Botswana for the African Cup of Nations, which took place just three days before the Bahrain friendly. The Togolese lost the away qualifier 1-2.

"Because they had played another important game only a few days before facing us and also had to deal with travel, playing a lower or second Togo team is very possible; right now we cannot be sure about that, but it could explain the poor level of the players," said the BFA spokesperson.

"They could also have had trouble with the very hot and humid weather during the match, or the fact that it was played in Ramadan.

"A lot of questions have been raised from this friendly game, and we are now looking into all the allegations."

Bahrain national team head coach Josef Hickersberger preferred not to comment on the allegations, but did admit that the friendly was "a wasted opportunity" due to their opponents' poor performance.

The game was part of Bahrain's preparations for the West Asian Football Federation Championship, which kicks off on September 24.

"Togo did not play their best team; for sure none of their professional players were there, I know some of them and didn't see any of them," Hickersberger said.

"They were not fit enough to play 90 minutes; the match was very boring, and basically it was not good for us because we wanted to get information about the strength of our team, especially playing with many of our professionals.

"This was a wasted opportunity on a Fifa date, and I'm very sad about it."

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was reading this the other day in the paper some joke ting

like that time when souness signed george weah cousin comedy gold

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