The Gambia National Team Thursday faced a life-threatening ordeal when the cabin oxygen supply failed on their chartered flight in a heart-stopping incident that unfolded just days before their highly anticipated Africa Cup of Nations clash with Senegal
The entire squad and coaching staff, en route from Banjul to the Ivory Coast, encountered a near disaster that has sent shockwaves through the football community.
Several players lost consciousness as the oxygen supply on the small private plane malfunctioned, while others grappled with severe headaches and extreme dizziness before the pilot made a critical decision to make an emergency landing.
The plane, originally destined for Abidjan, returned to Banjul a mere nine minutes into the journey, averting what could have been a catastrophic outcome.
Gambia national team coach Tom Saintfiet revealed the gravity of the situation saying; “We could all have been dead. Some players did not wake up immediately after landing.”
He added; We almost got carbon monoxide poisoning. Another half-hour of flying and we would all have been dead.”
Former Manchester United right-back Saidy Janko, a witness to the perilous incident, took to Instagram to criticize the Gambia Football Federation, branding their organization as “unacceptable.”
Janko recounted the stifling conditions aboard the plane, highlighting the immense heat and lack of adequate air conditioning that left the team drenched in sweat from the moment they boarded.
“The inhumane heat mixed with the occurring lack of oxygen left many people with strong headaches and extreme dizziness,” Janko explained, detailing how passengers began falling into deep sleep shortly after takeoff.
As the Gambia national team regroups for their tournament opener against Senegal, the shocking incident has prompted calls for a thorough investigation into safety protocols and the transportation arrangements for football teams, underscoring the critical importance of ensuring player well-being during travel.
The footballing world now watches closely as authorities examine the circumstances surrounding this near-tragedy, emphasizing the need for stringent safety measures to prevent such incidents in the future.
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