Emmanuel Adebayor of Togo fouled by Merveille Bope of DR Congo during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Finals football match between Togo and DR Congo at the Port Gentil Stadium in Gabon on 24 January 2017 ©Chris Ricco/BackpagePix
Wednesday Jan 25, 2017. 13:00
The Sparrow Hawks of Togo came into the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals as Group C underdogs.
They had been pitted against the defending champions Ivory Coast, Democratic of Congo (DRC) as well as Morocco in Group C.
Captained by the clubless Emmanuel Adebayor, Togo produced an impressive display against the much-fancied Ivory Coast in a goalless draw in first group game in Oyem.
Togo coach Claude Le Roy, who was making ninth appearance in the AFCON as a coach which is a record, was hailed after masterminding the draw against the star-studded Elephants.
Despite taking an early lead through Mathieu Dossevi, Togo were thrashed 3-1 by Morocco in their next group game four days later as the Sparrow Hawks were brought back down to earth.
After the disappointing game, Togolese fans were angry with the Sparrow Hawks' first-choice goalkeeper Kossi Agassa's poor performance against Lions of the Atlas.
The angry fans attacked Agassa's home in the Togolese capital city, Lome and they vandalised it. The house was then put under police protection.
As a result Togo were without their long-serving and experienced shot-stopper in their last group game as Agassa was given permission to leave the squad and head back home.
The Sparrow went into their clash with DR Congo with a slim chance of advancing to the knockout stages as they had to beat the Leopards and hope that the other result go their way.
Nevertheless, the Leopards thrashed Le Roy's side, who had to rely on their third-choice keeper Cedric Mensah after he replaced injured Baba Tchagouni in the first-half.
The shot-stopper conceded three times as DR Congo emerged 3-1 winners and they eased into the quarter-finals as Group C winners, while fourth-placed Togo exited the tournament with one point.
Le Roy and his charges head back to the drawing board. It remains to be seen whether the Frenchman will stay on and prepare the team for the next AFCON qualifying campaign.