Soccer-I'm part of history, says Adebayor of Togo's progress

NELSPRUIT, South Africa Thu Jan 31, 2013 4:35pm GMT

NELSPRUIT, South Africa Jan 31 (Reuters) - Togo have confounded conventional wisdom by reaching the last eight at the African Nations Cup despite chaotic preparations for the tournament.

The small west African country will meet Burkina Faso on Sunday having made it past the group phase for the first time in eight attempts.

Togo were in turmoil before the start of the competition with the participation of their best player, Tottenham Hotspur striker Emmanuel Adebayor, in doubt and the squad in revolt over bonus money.

The mood was completely different on Thursday after a 1-1 draw with Tunisia the night before had clinched a place in the quarter-finals.

"Today I'm here and I'm very happy - I'm part of history," Adebayor told reporters. "It's a good thing for the country and a good thing for me.

"I hope now we have a chance to win the cup. We just have to go for it."

A month ago Adebayor was refusing to take part in the Nations Cup, describing the Togo Football Federation as "sick and in need of medicine" as officials and players bickered over money.

It was only after two meetings with the country's president, Faure Gnassingbe, less than two weeks before the start that the forward changed his mind about playing in the tournament.

Adebayor joined up with the squad just days before their departure for South Africa, missing virtually all the preparation, but he has been a talismanic influence since the competition began.

"I'm very proud of my country, of what we have been through," he said. "I think you guys know it better than I do that three months ago when we qualified against Gabon we went through a lot of difficult moments...but it's all worked out." (Editing by Tony Jimenez)