The Gambia national team was forced to return to Banjul after taking off for Ivory Coast ahead of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) kick-off on Saturday.
A statement from the Gambia Football Federation (GFF) confirmed that the team was forced to make a safe return to Banjul after the chartered plane they had boarded developed mechanical problems.
“The Gambia Football Federation (GFF) regrets to inform the general public that the chartered flight carrying the Scorpions to the AFCON has returned to Banjul due to technical problems,” read the statement, adding: “The flight was nine minutes airborne when the crew realised and immediately requested to return to Banjul.
“Upon landing, preliminary investigations indicated that there was loss of cabin pressure and oxygen. However, the technical team of the operating company of the flight, Air Cote d’Ivoire is further assessing the situation to establish what caused the lack of oxygen and cabin pressure.
“In this regard, the team, including the players and staff are now on their way to base at the Ocean Bay Hotel as they await further instructions. It is important to note that every member of the delegation is safe and in sound health.
“The public will be kept informed about any development on the matter. We apologise for any inconvenience that this may have caused as we seek to find a quick solution for the team to travel to Ivory Coast as soon as possible.”
The Scorpions will take the field for their second-ever AFCON as they try to build on their promising run to the quarter-finals in 2021 and find themselves in Group C alongside Senegal, Guinea, and Cameroon. They will kick off their campaign on January 15 against their neighbors Senegal.