Togo's soccer players are returning home with the bodies of officials who died in an attack on their team bus in Angola but still hope to play in the African Nations Cup, their sports minister said on Sunday.
Christophe Tchao told reporters that Togo had asked the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to find a way for the team to rejoin the competition later.
"We have ordered a three-day mourning," Tchao said. "The players are leaving with the bodies of their fallen brothers and we have asked the CAF to find an arrangement so we can catch up with the competition later."
His comments deepened confusion about the team's plans, after Togo's prime minister had earlier insisted Togo would pull out of the tournament following Friday's attack by rebels, in which three people were killed.
The attack by separatist rebels left at least two dead and many injured, and led to the team being called back to Lome by the Togolese government.
Not enough support from organizers
Dossevi criticized organizers for not rescheduling the Ghana fixture.
The team is "a bit bitter, we are a little disappointed with the Confederation of African Football (CAF)... which couldn't arrange for a postponement of our first match so we could bury our dead.
"CAF puts its interests first and not those of the countries.
"They did not support us enough."
Earlier Angola's efforts to allay security concerns appeared to have been ignored by Togo.
"The Togolese government has decided to recall its team," Togolese government spokesman Pascal Bodjona said.
"We cannot in such a dramatic circumstance continue the African Nations Cup competition. This is necessary because the players are in shock."
Kassoma met with CAF president Issa Hayatou to reassure player safety ahead of the opening match of Africa's largest football festival in Luanda.
"The prime minister considers the incident in Cabinda as an isolated act and repeated that the security of Togo's team and the other squads is guaranteed," his office said in a statement.
Later Kassoma, talking on Angolan state radio, urged Togo to stay.
"Let us go on together, united in this big event, this major celebration of African youth in this year of glory for African sport."
His words were echoed Hayatou.
"If you choose to remain with us we will help you overcome your pain," he said.
"Fired on like dogs"
Togo's assistant coach and its squad spokesman died after hooded gunmen opened fire as the team's buses crossed into the restive Angolan enclave of Cabinda.
The attack was claimed by the FLEC/PM separatist group embroiled in a struggle for independence in the oil-rich territory, which warned the attack was "only the start of a series of targeted actions".
During the 20 minute ambush players and others cowered under seats to escape the bullets.
Dossevi said they had been "fired on like dogs".
"We are all a little shocked and we're asking why CAF were holding games in Cabinda. How can you organize a tournament in a state of war?" he told AFP.
On Saturday evening, goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale was in a stable condition in a Johannesburg hospital where he was expected to undergo surgery for gunshot wounds to the lower back and abdomen after being airlifted to South Africa.
Organizers said the games would proceed as planned.
Angola has spent $1 billion building stadiums, roads and hotels for the competition, which brings together Africa's best national teams. The bi-annual tournament, which lasts until Jan. 31, will be broadcast live around the world.
The African Nations Cup is due to start with fireworks and champagne at a massive stadium in the capital Luanda, where the hosts play Mali in the opening match later on Sunday.