June 18, 2024


President of the Gambia, Adama Barrow has intervened to provide a bigger aircraft for the national team to fly directly to Ivorian city of Yamoussoukro.

Adama Barrow’s intervention became necessary after the Gambian national team failed to travel due to a technical fault with their designated aircraft.

On Tuesday, The Gambia were forced to return to the Banjul International Airport just ten minutes into their flight after the aircraft carrying the team encountered a technical problem.

Meanwhile, Air Cote d’Ivoire, the tournaments official flight partners, have accused the Gambia contingent of not properly communicating their travel plans.

A statement from the airline said the Gambian flight only took off at 4.54pm GMT, four and a half hours after its scheduled departure time.

”After the aircraft had actually taken off, the crew decided to turn back after 10 minutes of flight, due to a pressurization problem,” Air Cote d’Ivoire said.

”Once back on the tarmac, the problem could have been solved very quickly by the aircraft mechanic present. However, the flight was cancelled after this return to the tarmac, as the crew had reached the flight time limit following the cumulative delay.

”However, committed to its role as official carrier of this AFCON, the airline dispatched a second team on the same day for the actual transport from Gambia to Yamoussoukro.”

Air Cote d’Ivoire will now provide an aircraft after fruitful discussions with Gambian President Adama Barrow.

The Scorpions will now fly directly to Yamoussoukro instead of Abidjan – where they would have had to connect again.

Tom Saintfiet’s contingent will now leave the Banjul International Airport at 1600 GMT.

Thursday’s resolution brings to an end, an extraordinary week characterized by flight delays, training boycotts, player mutiny etc.

Training boycott

Tom Saintfiet and his back room staff were on the pitch but the players did not turn up

Before all the issues with travel arrangements, the Gambia made the headlines on Monday after the Scorpions refused to turn up for their final training session.

Scores of fans, some of who paid to watch the session, were left disappointed

The players refused to train in protest against unpaid qualification bonuses.

Despite assurances from the Football Federation and the country’s Ministry of Youth and Sports, the bonuses were not paid even after the team secured qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Cumbersome travel arrangements

On Monday, the team endured a two-hour drive from their Saudi camp to the airport before flying four hours to Istanbul. In a disappointing turn of events, the team was forced to spend six hours in transit.

Eventually, the Scorpions got on the five-hour flight from Istanbul to Casablanca.

In Morocco, Tom Saintfiet’s men would spend another seven hours in transit before the four-hour flight to the Gambia.

The Gambia have been drawn in Group C with defending champions Senegal, Cameroun and Guinea.



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