Guinea’s overseas-based players trapped after coup

Guinea’s overseas-based players remained trapped in their country on Monday after soldiers overthrew the government and took power in a coup the day before the national team was due to play a World Cup qualifier in the capital Conakry.

Liverpool said it was in “constant contact” with midfielder Naby Keita and he was “safe and well,” while other clubs were also checking on the wellbeing of their players. Some members of the Guinea squad were still at the team hotel in Conakry with players unable to leave the West Africa nation after borders were closed.

Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow was trying to make plans for its forward Francois Kamano to return to Russia, it said, but hadn’t been able to fly him out. He was at his home and communicating with club staff.

“Due to the difficult political situation in Guinea at the current moment all routes are blocked in and out of the country where our player is located,” Lokomotiv said in a statement.

Mutinous soldiers led by the former commander of Guinea’s special forces unit detained President Alpha Conde on Sunday after heavy gunfire rang out near the presidential palace in Conakry. Images of Conde, looking disheveled and in military custody, were released. The junta leaders announced they also dissolved the government.

They moved to reinforce their grip on power on Monday by ordering forces from Conde’s presidential guard to join the junta. Concerns were raised over a possible counter coup if the larger army refused to accept the new military rulers.

Guinea defender Issiaga Sylla, who plays for Toulouse, told French newspaper L’Equipe that the players learned something was happening as they gathered for breakfast at the hotel on Sunday morning.

“The coach then came to see us to tell us that there was a coup,” Sylla told L’Equipe. “Soldiers were called in to secure our hotel.”

The team hotel was around 10 minutes from the airport “but we can’t move,” Sylla said.

FIFA and the Confederation of African Football postponed Monday’s game between Guinea and Morocco, and the visiting Moroccan squad was allowed to leave the country late Sunday after being stranded at its hotel for hours waiting to be given permission to depart. Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic said they had heard gunshots ring out near their hotel as the coup unfolded.

The Moroccan team was ultimately evacuated after intervention by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI. Defender Nayef Aguerd said the king also organized for extra security at the Moroccan hotel during those anxious hours on Sunday.

“We felt fear during the events in Conakry, but the most important thing is that we returned to Morocco safe and sound,” Aguerd said.

Although FIFA and CAF said they were closely monitoring the situation, it was unclear how it might be able to help to get Guinea players back to their clubs.

Liverpool said it was talking with “relevant authorities,” which included Guinea team officials, regarding Keita and was working to get him “back to Liverpool in a timely and secure manner.”

FIFA hasn’t announced a new date or venue for the Guinea-Morocco qualifier.

___

AP Sports Writer James Ellingworth contributed to this report.

___

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © 2021 . All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Comments

Sign up for breaking news alerts