Thursday, April 18, 2024

Afcon 2023: Gambia coach feared workforce would die on aborted flight to Ivory Coast


The Gambia squad travelling to Ivory Coast for the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations “might have died” throughout a flight that was aborted, coach Tom Saintfiet claimed.

The Air Cote d’Ivoire flight circled simply minutes after leaving the Gambian capital Banjul on Wednesday.

Saintfiet believes there was an absence of oxygen, saying circumstances prompted most of the delegation to go to sleep.

The coach praised fast pondering by the pilot for maintaining his workforce protected.

Officers from the airline confirmed there had been a pressurisation drawback.

Saintfiet advised BBC Sport Africa: “The native crew mentioned there was an issue with the air-con earlier than we took off however that it could be all high-quality once we took off.

“After a couple of minutes, it was highly regarded within the airplane.

“All of us fell asleep as a result of there was an absence of oxygen – among the gamers could not be woken up. The pilot seen and we needed to return.

“Folks acquired complications and if the flight had gone on for an additional half-hour, the entire workforce would have died. The unusual factor is that the oxygen masks did not come out – it is good that the pilot realised that this was a lethal state of affairs and so turned again.

“However we’re nonetheless in shock.”

Air Cote d’Ivoire is the official airliner of Afcon 2023, and an announcement from the corporate mentioned the air crew determined to show again due to a pressurisation drawback.

It added that the difficulty might have been resolved by a mechanic on the bottom, however that the flight was in the end cancelled due to the affect earlier delays had on the crew’s working hours.

Saintfiet advised the passengers might have been dealing with carbon monoxide poisoning, however Gambia Soccer Federation (GFF) president Lamin Kaba Bajo mentioned there was no proof to help that comment.

“I by no means felt it and it is not clinically, scientifically or medically confirmed,” Kaba Bajo advised the BBC.

“These are particular person observations and perceptions, however there was not something like that. I used to be virtually sitting subsequent to the coach and I did not see anybody collapse.

“I do know that folks, when a airplane takes off, they sleep.

“Some folks have been dozing, sleeping, however we landed safely. There was not a single incident, all of us got here down and boarded the bus to return to the terminal.”

The incident got here 4 months after the Gambian workforce, who will face defending champions Senegal, Cameroon and Guinea in Group C, have been caught up in September’s devastating earthquake within the Moroccan metropolis of Marrakesh, when over 2,000 folks died.

Regardless of the expertise on board the aborted flight, The Gambia selected to coach upon their return to Banjul on Wednesday night time, although among the squad have been unable to participate.

“Some gamers couldn’t practice due to what occurred. They nonetheless have complications and that’s worrying, whereas among the gamers are nonetheless dizzy,” mentioned Saintfiet.

“The workforce requested to coach as we had been travelling in a single day from Saudi Arabia to return dwelling on Sunday, and Monday as properly.

“We educated in a bid to launch the stress.”

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