Gun attack overshadows Africa Cup of Nations
Like many fans of African football, I'd long been looking forward to this year's Nations Cup in Angola, especially since it seemed the perfect stepping stone to the World Cup in South Africa later in 2010.
But as I landed here in the capital Luanda on Saturday morning, my emotions, like those of everyone else, were totally flat.
To state the obvious, it was impossible to get excited after three people connected with the tournament had died in Friday evening's shocking machine-gun attack on the Togolese team bus.
The incident took place in the separate (and separatist) enclave of oil-rich Cabinda, split from the main body of Angola by a tiny slither of DR Congo. Togo's assistant coach and press officer, as well as the Angolan coach driver, all tragically passing away.
Sportsmen are seemingly leading a charmed life at present for no Togo player died on Friday, just as no Sri Lankan cricketers died in last year's terror attack in Pakistan, although as you read this, reserve goalkeeper Kodjovi Obilale is breathing with the aid of a respirator in a Johannesburg intensive care unit after taking a bullet in his back.
At the time of writing, it seems the Togolese players are going to stay and somehow play on after spending half-an-hour clinging onto their lives as bullets sprayed their bus.
"All the players - everyone was crying and saying their last words because they thought they'd be dead," Emmanuel Adebayor told the BBC afterwards.
"A lot of players want to leave. They have seen death and want to go back to their families."
Like some of his team-mates, he said he was going home but that now appears to have changed.
"It is left to you to decide to stay in a competition synonymous with fraternity, brotherhood, friendship and solidarity," Caf president Issa Hayatou told the Togolese squad in the aftermath of the attack.
But that's not quite the whole story for behind the scenes, both Angolan and Nations Cup organisers have been pleading with the Togolese to stay.
Angolan Prime Minister Paulo Kassoma has promised to beef up security for the matches but how can the Togo squad believe this when they were told in the run-up to the tournament by an Angolan minister that security in Cabinda was 'guaranteed'?
It seems wholly inappropriate to put pressure on footballers who survived a near-death experience to play a tournament, which is the least of their concerns when life was flashing before their eyes, but that is what appears to have been happening.
The pressure has - somehow - worked and Togo's players are now singing a different tune to the one that reverberated around the world in the aftermath of the attack.
"People died for this tournament, others were injured. We can't abandon them and leave like cowards," Alaixys Romao told French sports agency L'Equipe.
"If we stay here, it's for them. But also so as not to give satisfaction to the rebels. Our government doesn't necessarily agree with us but we are determined to play in this competition."
Indeed the Togolese government does not want their players to stay in Cabinda, with the West African nation's prime minister upping the ante by declaring that if the players 'present themselves under the Togolese flag, it will be a false representation'.
While this story has no clear end at present, it's revealing to note that there has never been talk by Confederation of African Football officials of scrapping the tournament.
This is a ruling body for whom money talks and with about 80% of Caf's revenue coming from the Nations Cup, it's no surprise at all that no political will has been shown to stop the tournament.
Of course, those in favour of continuing will point out that cancelling the Nations Cup will be a triumph for the rebels, with the attack widely attributed to the separatist rebel group Flec, and so the show must go on.
Either way, this tournament that Angola has long been looking forward to - one which was supposedly giving the southern African nation a chance to show a new face to the world after three decades of civil war ended in 2002 - will forever be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Most newswire reports that I have read over the last few months in the build-up to the 2010 Nations Cup constantly stated it didn't really matter how well Angola's national team do in the tournament, for the country has already won simply by hosting the finals.
Those words seem very hollow now.