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AFCON: How we cheated deaths as aircraft suffered oxygen, pressure shortage mid-air en route to Ivory Coast – Gambian coach

The coaching staff and the squad were on a flight to Ivory Coast for the tournament from the capital city of Banjul when immediately after boarding the plane, several players passed out, Persecond News reports.

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The Gambian national football team, moments after their aircraft departed for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations on Thursday, came perilously close to death within a half-hour of the flight.

The coaching staff and the squad were on a flight to Ivory Coast for the tournament from the capital city of Banjul when immediately after boarding the plane, several players passed out, Persecond News reports.

The Gambia Football Federation announced on Thursday that technical challenges aboard the chartered flight transporting the Scorpions lasted for nine minutes.

“However, the technical team of the flight operating company, Air Côte d’Ivoire, is conducting additional evaluations to determine the cause of the cabin’s oxygen and pressure deficiencies,” the statement said.

“In this regard, the team, including players and staff, are now en route to the Ocean Bay Hotel awaiting further instructions.”

According to Gambian coach Tom Saintfiet, his team and coaching staff were on the verge of carbon monoxide toxicity as a result of the oxygen deprivation.

He further stated that they were approaching their thirty-minute “death penalty”.

“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 after landing.

“We almost got carbon monoxide poisoning. Another half hour of flying and we would all have been dead, Saintfiet said.

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