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The Gambia Squad Travelling to Ivory Coast for AFCON 2023, Could Have Died as Their Flight Had to be Aborted


January 12, 2024

The Gambia squad travelling to Ivory Coast for the upcoming 2023 Africa Cup of Nations “could have died” during a flight that was aborted.

Their coach, Tom Saintfiet, who made the claim, believes there was a lack of oxygen on the plane, saying conditions prompted many of the delegations to fall asleep, but praised quick thinking by the pilot for keeping his team safe.

The Air Cote d’Ivoire flight turned around just minutes after leaving the Gambian capital Banjul on Wednesday.

Air Cote d’Ivoire is the official airliner of Afcon 2023, and a statement from the company said the aircrew decided to turn back because of a pressurization problem. It added that the issue could have been resolved by a mechanic on the ground, but that the flight was ultimately cancelled because of the impact earlier delays had on the crew’s working hours.

The Gambia, who reached the quarter-finals of their maiden Nations Cup two years ago despite being the lowest-ranked team, are due to face neighbours Senegal on Monday in their opening game.