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Togo says former coach Bana behind fake team

LOME, Togo — Former Togo coach Tchanile Bana was responsible for taking a fake national team to play a friendly international against Bahrain and has been banned for three years, the Togo football federation said on Monday.

The team, made up of unidentified players and claiming to be Togo's national side, lost 3-0 in the Sept. 7 friendly in Bahrain. Togo's interim football federation and sports ministry said the team was not authorized to represent the country and did not have permission to travel to Bahrain.

"The organization, preparation and supervision of the match were planned by Tchanile Bana," said a statement issued by interim federation president Seyi Memene.

Bana was Togo's national team coach on two occasions, in 2000 and 2004, and had already been suspended from his position on the team's technical staff for two years for taking a group of players to a tournament in Egypt in July without permission.

A member of the disciplinary commission set up to investigate the incident said more officials in the troubled Togo football body could also face sanctions.

"We must not be content to penalize Tchanile Bana alone," Antoine Folly said. "Full light must be thrown on the Bahrain affair in order to unmask and impose sanctions on his accomplices operating within the Togo football federation."

The commission said last week it had summoned a number of officials for questioning.

The scandal comes weeks before Oct. 16 elections which are designed to give Togo's football federation a fresh start. FIFA dissolved the Togo FA's ruling committee last December and installed an interim panel to run its affairs until new elections could be held.

The fake Togo delegation, led by Bana, also appears to have tricked the Bahrain Football Association into believing that they were an official national team.

A former Togo official told The Associated Press last week his signature was forged in a letter to the Bahraini federation that set up the match.

The AP received documents showing former interim football federation secretary general Kodzo Samlan's name as the signatory in a letter dated Aug. 17 and addressed to BFA general secretary Ahmed Jassim Mohammad. The documents were provided by the BFA, which said they proved the game was legitimate.

However, Samlan told the AP he did not write the letter, and claimed he no longer worked for the football body.

Another of the documents supposedly sent by Togo's football authorities listed a 20-member Togo team, including each player's passport number and date of birth.

However, a completely different 18-man team list was provided by a Togo team official a few minutes prior to the start of the match at Bahrain's National Stadium in Riffa, made up of unknown players.

The documents name Bana, Issaka Moumouni Tcha-Samire and Mamadou Doucoure of Togo, Sadat Swalah of Ghana and Tchabana Agoro, whose nationality is not given, as officials for the fake team in Bahrain.

The whereabouts of the other supposed officials is uncertain.