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2023 AFCON: Gambia avoid tragedy with emergency landing due to oxygen failure

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The Gambia football team faced a potential disaster as their flight to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast experienced an emergency due to a lack of cabin oxygen supply.

The squad and coaching staff were on a flight from Banjul to Ivory Coast when players began struggling shortly after take-off.

Just nine minutes into the flight, the pilot had to return to Banjul Airport for an emergency landing as the aircraft’s oxygen supply was running low. Players reported extreme heat and discomfort, with many experiencing headaches and dizziness. The situation prompted an emergency landing to avert a potential crisis.

Saidy Janko, a defender for the Gambia national team, described the harrowing experience on social media, emphasising the severity of the situation.

“If it wasn’t for this, the consequences could have been a lot worse!!! Knowing what could have happened, if we would have been exposed to the situation for any longer – in an airplane, running out of oxygen,” Janko said on Instagram.

“We are grateful that everyone is feeling well but this is a situation that has to be addressed going into the AFCON, as being only one of our obstacles on international duty.” A part of the post added.

This comes after the team boycotted a farewell training session over unpaid bonuses. The players were supposed to train in front of fans before traveling to Abidjan, but they demanded their promised bonus of $15,000, leading to the boycott.

The Gambia will start their AFCON campaign next Monday against defending champions Senegal, followed by matches against Guinea and Cameroon in a challenging group. Despite these challenges, the Scorpions are determined to make an impact, building on their impressive debut appearance in the 2021 edition, where they reached the quarter-finals.

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