AFCON 2023: Gambia squad makes air return to Banjul

The Gambian national football team made a quick U-turn to Banjul a few moments after their flight took off for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

Sports Brief reports that the team’s departure had to be delayed after reportedly losing oxygen on the flight carrying the entire Gambian squad en route to Abidjan.

The Scorpions will face defending champions, Senegal; five-time champions Cameroon, and Guinea in Group C of the tournament.

A statement from the Gambia Football Federation on Thursday stated that after nine minutes in the air, the operators of the plane started experiencing technical challenges, leading to some players and technical team members suffering severe headaches and breathing problems.

“The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) regrets to inform the general public that the chartered flight carrying the Scorpions to the Africa Cup of Nations returned to Banjul due to technical problems. The flight was nine minutes long when the crew realised this and immediately requested a return to Banjul. Upon landing, preliminary investigations indicated that there had been a loss of cabin pressure and oxygen.

“However, the technical team of the flight operating company, Air Côte d’Ivoire, is further assessing the situation to establish the cause of the lack of oxygen and pressure in the cabin. In this regard, the team, including players and staff, are now en route to the Ocean Bay Hotel awaiting further instructions,” the statement read.

The football federation however confirmed that the players and technical team were safe and plans for a new departure time have been arranged.

The 34th edition of the African Nations Cup starts this weekend, January 13 and it will run until February 11, 2024.


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