Following a few days of intense international media attention on both the 2-1 win over Gabon and the airport incident preceding it, The Gambian football authorities will this morning hold a media briefing on the matter.
The Gabonese players who arrived in the night Sunday claimed they were detained at the airport for hours while the Gambian authorities claimed the visitors had refused to obey Covid-19 protocols by refusing to show less than 72 hours old negative test results and refusing also to be tested.
The incident which was dramatised by the Gabonese international and Arsenal star Pierre Aubameyang, naturally attracted headlines around the world with many running with one-sided stories demonising The Gambia. The African football body Caf eventually stepped in and ordered the match to go ahead reportedly after Gabon agreed to show their less than 72 hours old test results at a technical meeting. The match was played with Gambia winning 2-1.
However what is worrying is that Caf has said its disciplinary committee had been asked to investigate the incident and come up with possible sanctions if The Gambia has been found guilty of any wrong doing. A source familiar with this kind of incident said Caf normally imposes heavy fines or in very rare cases forfeit match points.
Gambian officials have told The Standard that the country has nothing to fear because the airport incident was fundamentally caused by the refusal of the Gabonese to comply with the rules laid by the Gambia government about which the GFF can do very little or nothing. There is also the matter of Sulayman Marreh, the Gambian player is still isolating in Gabon where he was tested positive for Covid-19. Latest reports said he is waiting for his next test but he is showing no symptoms.
Meanwhile DR Congo has gone just a point adrift of the top two teams of the group, Gambia and Gabon, after beating Angola. The result now makes the Gambia’s need for a win even more relevant and unmistakable. The next round of matches, on Mar 22 and March 30, 2021, will bring the most heart rending moments in this qualifiers with each match potentially making or killing dreams across the country. So what next for The Gambia until then? The GFF will be keen to discuss all these issues this morning , when President Lamin Kaba Bajo assisted by his aides will explain and possibly take questions from the media about the GFF’s understanding of these events and anything connected to it.
Yesterday Gabonese officials held a press conference in Libreville blaming Gambia for detaining them at the airport even after producing a valid Covid-19 negative test result. They said a Gambian Ministry of health official viewed their certificates at the airport and returned it to them only for him to come back with equipment’s to test them which they refused. Today is the turn of the Gambian officials to state their case to the country and the world. Read tomorrow’s edition for full accounts from both sides.
The news conference will start at 11am at Football House.