WC participations None
WC honours None
Continental Titles None
Togo defy the odds
If Togo were unlikely contenders for a first FIFA World Cup™ finals place at the outset of their campaign, then their first three qualifiers did little to alter that impression. The Hawks started off in late 2003 with a 1-0 defeat to lowly Equatorial Guinea and although they won the return leg in Lome 2-0 to reach the group stage of the qualifiers, there was little expected of them.
An opening Group 1 defeat to Zambia on 5 June 2004 appeared to set the tone for a struggle, but 15 days later everything changed. A 3-1 triumph over group favourites and Korea/Japan quarter-finalists Senegal proved the catalyst for an impressive unbeaten run by coach Stephen Keshi’s side.
After drawing in Liberia, they secured four straight victories before then travelling to Dakar on 18 June 2005 where the talismanic Emmanuel Adebayor’s 71st-minute goal secured the 2-2 draw that kept them two points clear at the top, an advantage they retained with subsequent victories over Liberia and Congo. A record of seven wins and just one defeat in ten qualifiers is remarkable for a country who finished their previous three FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns ranked fourth in their group.
Togo may have reached the CAF African Cup of Nations finals five times but this is far and away their greatest footballing achievement and coach Keshi must take much of the credit. The former Nigerian international (he captained his country at USA 94) took the Togo job after being dismissed as Nigeria’s assistant coach after their semi-final exit from the 2002 Nations Cup. Initially his sights were set on a top-three finish but, as he says, “when we saw Germany in sight I told my players that this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance”.
The Nigerian connection does not end there as strikers Adebayor and Oulfade Adekanmi were both born in Nigeria but opted to represent Togo. Adebayor is the undoubted hero of Togolese football – and has already surpassed the legend status of 1960s hero Frank Fiawoo, who played for Olympique Marseille and Bastia in France Based with Monaco in Ligue 1, the tall, lanky Adebayor scored 11 goals – finding the net against all five of Togo’s Group 1 opponents - to finish as the top marksman in African qualifying.
Togo\'s first crack at qualifying came in the preliminary qualifiers to the 1974 tournament, but they have yet to threaten the big guns for a place at the FIFA World Cup™ finals. Congo DR ended their first shot at qualifying with Guinea and Niger following suit in later years.
Togo lost all their preliminary matches in the contest for places at the 1994 FIFA World Cup USA, although they did manage a win over Zimbabwe four years later and beat Zambia and Libya in the 2002 qualifying tournament albeit in a group that was won by Cameroon.
The greatest result in Togo\'s history came in the 1998 African Cup of Nations, a 2-1 triumph over four-times champions Ghana which saw the fancied nation eliminated from the tournament. Following a 1-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea in the first leg of their preliminary qualifier for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Togo came back to win the return 2-0 and progress to the next round.