My Team Almost Died While Flying To 2023 AFCON – Gambia’s Coach

My Team Almost Died While Flying To 2023 AFCON - Gambia’s Coach

Gambia’s head coach, Tom Saintfiet, has described his team’s experience in the aborted flight as a near-death encounter.

Earlier today, Naija News reported that the aeroplane carrying the Gambia national team players to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, for the 2023 AFCON was forced to make a U-turn to Gambia’s capital, Banjul, on Wednesday due to a low gas issue.

A pressurization issue led the airplane crew to make the U-turn, as stated in a statement issued by Air Cote d’Ivoire, the official airline of AFCON 2023.

The statement added that although a ground technician could have fixed the problem, the previous delays negatively impacted the crew’s working hours, leading to the flight’s cancellation.

In an interview with the BBC, Saintfiet confirmed that the cancelled flight was due to low gas on the plane as he appreciated the aircrew for quickly returning to their take-off point.

The Belgian tactician said: “The local crew said there was a problem with the air conditioning before we took off but that it would be all fine when we took off.

“After a few minutes, it was very hot on the plane.

“We all fell asleep because there was a lack of oxygen – some of the players couldn’t be woken up. The pilot noticed and we had to return.

“People got headaches and if the flight had gone on for another 30 minutes, the whole team would have died. The strange thing is that the oxygen masks didn’t come out – it’s good that the pilot realized that this was a deadly situation and so turned back.

“But we are still in shock.”

This incident occurred four months after the Gambian team was caught up in the earthquake that rocked Marrakesh, Morocco, and claimed almost 2,000 lives in September 2023.

Despite the terrible experience of the postponed trip, the Gambia decided to continue training on Wednesday night after returning to Banjul, but several squad members were unable to participate in the training.

At the time of writing, The Gambian team, who will play Senegal in Group C on Monday, January 15, were on an airplane heading to Yamoussoukro in Ivory Coast where they will play most of their group stage games.

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