Ed Dove, Particular to ESPNJan 11, 2024, 07: 18 AM ET
- Ed Dove is a author and scout who has a deep and enduring passion for African sport, politics and literature. Instagram: @EddyDove22, Fb: @EddyDoveAfrica
Gambia head coach Tom Saintfiet has said his team done with out tragedy on Wednesday when the plane transporting them to the Ivory Flee for the Africa Cup of Nations was as soon as pressured to flip support due to the an absence of oxygen.
The team had been travelling in a puny 50-seater propeller plane, registered to Air Cote d’Ivoire, which had been arranged for them by the Gambian soccer affiliation.
Saintfiet said the oxygen supply on the flight failed, inflicting some members of the team to lose consciousness earlier than the pilot opted to advance to Gambia’s capital, Banjul.
The Gambian FA said that “preliminary investigations indicated that there was as soon as an absence of cabin rigidity and oxygen.
“However, the technical team of the working company of the flight, Air Cote d’Ivoire is extra assessing the scenario to save what introduced about the inability of oxygen and cabin rigidity,” the statement said.
Air Cote d’Ivoire has now not yet answered to a requirement for comment by ESPN.
Saintfiet told ESPN: “We had been in actuality demise within the plane. There was as soon as no oxygen in this plane, all people fell asleep, grew to alter into slightly bit unconscious, and the pilot made up our minds after 9 minutes of being within the air to advance to build our lives.
“There had been no oxygen masks shedding down … I am ready to die for Gambia, however on the soccer pitch, now not off it. I had short desires where my life handed, I had moments where I opinion I was as soon as demise.”
Gambia defender Saidy Janko said his teammates began to go into unconsciousness after the plane took off.
“As quickly as we entered the puny plane that was as soon as employed to hover us, we noticed the intense heat that left us dripping with sweat,” Janko said in a post on Instagram. “It was as soon as assured to us by the crew that the air conditioning would delivery up as soon as we are within the sky.
“The inhumane heat mixed with the inability of oxygen left many individuals with procure complications and total dizziness. Furthermore, folks started falling deeply asleep minutes after takeoff.
“In the air, the scenario bought worse, leaving the pilot with no different however to provoke an emergency touchdown. If it wasn’t for this, the consequences may maybe well also had been loads worse.”
They are due to the play their AFCON opener against holders Senegal in Yamoussoukro on Monday, however Saintfiet said their participation at the match now hangs within the steadiness.
The Confederation of African Soccer (CAF) declined to comment.
“Of us tranquil maintain complications, vomiting, are dizzy, it could also put off weeks earlier than we get better from this,” Saintfiet added. “We’re at a loss for phrases, and we’re even announcing to now not poke to the Africa Cup, because we manufacture now not pick up handled as we settle on.
“Now we maintain households, we maintain now children, however [they] put us within the least costly plane that you may maybe mediate. We haven’t trained for three days, did now not sleep for three days, for two days we have had no lunch.
“If that is so, let’s poke residence, let’s fail to recollect AFCON.”
Saintfiet said his Gambia team remain in Banjul, having refused invitation from the Gambia FA to reattempt the 2100-km flight on the the same plane they first and most predominant boarded on Wednesday.
“They tried to put us on a plane — the the same plane — this morning, and all of us refused it,” Saintfiet said. “Despite the indisputable truth that the following day we maintain now to commute on a commercial flight, we are able to enact, however we is now not going to enter that plane, or any identical fill of puny propeller-form plane.
“We hover with a proper plane, now not with a unlawful plane or a plane esteem that.”
After facing Senegal subsequent week, Gambia — who’re competing of their 2d-ever Nations Cup after successive talents below Saintfiet — are due to the face Guinea in Yamoussoukro on Jan. 19, earlier than closing their neighborhood-stage advertising and marketing and marketing campaign against Cameroon four days later.
Records from Reuters was as soon as old in this document.