The national team of Gambia was scheduled to depart for Ivory Coast on Wednesday evening, January 10, 2024, in order to wrap up AFCON preparations.
However, low cabin pressure, intense heat, and a shortage of oxygen plagued the flight from Banjul to the nation hosting this year’s AFCON. This was posted on Instagram by Saidy Janko, the Scorpions’ defender and the Swiss team Young Boys Bern’s champion.
As soon as we entered the small plane that was hired to fly us, we noticed the immense heat that left us dripping in sweat. It was assured to us by the crew that the air condition would start once we are in the sky,” the 28-year-old wrote on his Instagram page
However, it appears that this was not the case: “Many people experienced severe headaches and dizziness due to the combination of the unbearable heat and the resulting oxygen shortage.” In addition, minutes after boarding the aircraft and during takeoff, people began to nod off deeply.”
Nine minutes after takeoff, the Air Côte d’Ivoire flight’s pilot was forced to make an emergency landing back in Banjul due to the worsening air conditions.
“The consequences could have been far worse if it weren’t for this! Janko, who was born in Zurich, Switzerland, chooses to play for his father’s native nation after realising the potential consequences of staying in the aircraft and running out of oxygen for an extended period of time.
Next Monday, the Gambia will take on Senegal, the reigning champions, in the opening match of the AFCON. Later, they’ll play in a challenging group with Guinea and Cameroon.