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Tuesday, 24 September, 2002, 14:32 GMT 15:32 UK
Gambia prepares to fly out players
The Gamiban President Yaya Jammeh
President Jammeh has his private jet ready for the players

The Gambia Government has expressed concern over the fate of the country's national team trapped in Ivory Coast following a military coup attempt.

The team has been trapped in a hotel in the second city of Bouake, with the Senegal and Sierra Leone teams, since Thursday last week.

The teams, who were in Ivory Coast to compete in the regional Wafu Cup, have been unable to leave the hotel because of fears for their safety.

A Gambian government source told BBC Sport Online that President Yaya Jammeh has given instructions for his private jet to air lift the Gamibian players as soon as the team reaches Abidjan.

"The plane is on standby and would take off within minutes of clearance from Abidjan," the source said.

Government authorities in Bouake have been trying to get the players to safety to Abidjan but that is proving difficult because the city has been in rebel hands.

Telephone link

The government source also revealed that the Gambian government had facilitated a direct telephone link to "Ran Hotel" in Bouake where the players are trapped.

The facility has enabled the players to talk to their families in Banjul.

Sport Online has also learnt that the Gambian President is in talks with government officials in Sierra Leone and Senegal to find a safe corridor for the players to reach Abidjan.

Elsewhere in the country people are increasingly worried about the condition of the players especially with reports of food scarcity in the hotel.

"There does not seem to be any short term resolution to this crisis.

The rebels are said to be well armed and defiant, " one worried fan said.


Wafu Cup crisis
Links to more Africa stories are at the foot of the page.


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