LUANDA // The African Nations Cup kicked off in dramatic style with eight goals scored in the tournament's opening match and Togo flying home. Angola, reeling from the shock of the gun attack on the Togo team bus in Cabinda on Friday, were denied a winning start when they squandered a four-goal lead yesterday to draw 4-4 with Mali at Luanda's brand-new November 11 stadium. The eight goals fell just one short of the 47-year-old record for the most in a single match at the Nations Cup finals.
Angola were coasting to a seemingly comfortable victory with just 11 minutes left before Mali put together a thrilling comeback, including two goals from Barcelona's Seydou Keita and a rocket-like header from former African Footballer of the Year Frederic Kanoute. The Mali captain Mahamadou Diarra said: "In modern football you always have to believe and you have to be mentally strong. "Our world was upside down in the second half but with our kind of experience we kept our cool and got back into the game."
As the tournament was being launched in a colourful, carnival-like opening ceremony, Togo were departing from Cabinda for home, where three days of mourning has been declared following the death of two of their delegation members. There were suggestions Togo, scheduled to begin their campaign against Ghana on Monday, might return for their remaining group games but it is likely Group B will go ahead in Cabinda with just three teams.
Burkina Faso and the Ivory Coast play the first match at the Chazi stadium on Monday when World Cup finalists Algeria take on Malawi in Group A in Luanda. * Reuters