Loss of oxygen forces Gambia's flight for AFCON into emergency landing

Mahmoud Elassal , Thursday 11 Jan 2024

The plane carrying Gambia's national football team to Cote d'Ivoire for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) had to make an emergency landing due to the loss of cabin pressure and oxygen on board.

Gambia
The Gambia delegation have refused to return to the same plane for their trip to Ivory Coast

 

The malfunction was detected by the crew just nine minutes into the flight, read a statement on Thursday by the Gambia Football Federation (GFF).

“Once they safely landed in Banjul, the problems were confirmed,” the statement added.

The GFF said everyone on board was "safe and in sound health."

Following the incident, the team conducted a training session at the Independence Stadium in Bakau, a town west of Banjul.

Gambia manager Tom Saintfiet, speaking to Belgian outlet Gazet van Antwerpen on Thursday morning, said that while he managed to get a few hours of sleep, many of his players were still in a state of shock. Some experienced dizziness and headaches.

Nevertheless, the team had no choice but to continue training. Saintfiet acknowledged the mental toll on the players, stating, "The group is very mentally affected. I told my players, 'What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.' But I don't know if they will be able to pick up the thread immediately. This takes time. Physically and mentally, many of my players are not ready to train, let alone play a match."

Drawn into Group C of AFCON 2023, Gambia will face tough opponents including Cameroon, Guinea, and reigning champions Senegal.

Their opening match in the tournament is scheduled against Senegal on Monday.

As stated in the GFF's Wednesday night statement, the team, including players and staff, is on their way to the Ocean Bay Hotel, where they will await further instructions.

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