Gambia’s Oxygen Fails on Flight to Afcon: Football Team’s Near-Death Experience Sparks Urgent Investigation

Africa Cup of Nations Preparations Disrupted as Cabin Oxygen Supply Fails, Prompting Emergency Landing

In a harrowing incident, the Gambia football team faced a life-threatening situation when the cabin oxygen supply reportedly failed during a flight for the Africa Cup of Nations, bringing the squad perilously close to disaster. Former Manchester United, Celtic, and Nottingham Forest player Saidy Janko documented the ordeal, revealing that the team experienced extreme discomfort, including strong headaches and dizziness, after an emergency landing just nine minutes into the flight.

Tom Saintfiet, Gambia’s Belgian coach, expressed the gravity of the situation to Dutch newspaper Nieuwsblad, stating, “We could all have been dead. We all fell asleep quickly. Me, too. I had short dreams about how my life was done. Really and truly.”

“After nine minutes, the pilot decided to return because there was no oxygen supply. Some players did not wake up [until] immediately after landing. We almost got carbon monoxide poisoning. Another half hour of flying and we would all have been dead,” Saintfiet added.

The Africa Cup of Nations is set to commence in the Ivory Coast on Friday, with Gambia’s squad, including players such as Wrexham’s Jacob Mendy, Stockport County’s Ibou Touray, and Cardiff City’s Ebou Adams.

Janko, recounting the traumatic experience on Instagram, detailed the unbearable heat and lack of oxygen aboard the chartered flight. He emphasized that an emergency landing became the only viable option after players started falling deeply asleep shortly after takeoff.

The Gambian Football Federation released a statement acknowledging the incident, explaining that the chartered flight, operated by Air Cote d’Ivoire, experienced technical problems, leading to a loss of cabin pressure and oxygen. The team, players, and staff are reported to be safe and in good health, currently at the Ocean Bay Hotel awaiting further instructions.

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The statement apologized for any inconvenience caused and assured the public of ongoing investigations to determine the cause of the lack of oxygen and cabin pressure. The focus now shifts to finding a swift solution to ensure the team’s safe travel to Ivory Coast for the upcoming tournament.

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