The attempted coup in Guinea happened a day before a scheduled FIFA World Cup qualifiers match between the country and Morocco.
The Moroccan national team was already in Conakry, the capital of Guinea for the game when some group of soldiers stormed the country’s presidential palace. After a lengthy gun battle, they were able to get hold of the country’s president, Alpha Condé.
Immediately after that, the coup plotters suspended the country’s constitution and the government. They also ordered the closure of land borders and every other means of leaving the country.
Hence, the Moroccan national team were trapped in a hotel for hours on Sunday while the unrest lasted.
One of the biggest football stars in the Morocco team is 22-year-old Paris Saint Germain right-back, Achraf Hakimi. While the biggest star in the Guineas team is 26-year-old Liverpool midfielder, Naby Keita.
When the coup plotters announced that they have taken over Guinea, FIFA and CAF announced that the match which was scheduled to take place on Monday, September 6, 2021 has been canceled.
“The current political and security situation in Guinea is quite volatile and is being closely monitored by FIFA and CAF,” a joint statement by FIFA and CAF.
“To ensure the safety and security of all players and to protect all match officials, FIFA and CAF have decided to postpone the match.”
After the match was canceled, the biggest issue was how the Moroccan national team could safely return to Morocco. They waited for hours at a hotel that was said to be located not too far away from the Guineas presidential palace.
The Moroccan head coach, Vahid Halilhodzic granted an interview during the heat of the incident in which he revealed that he heard gunshots all day.
“We are at the hotel, we hear gunshots nearby all day”, he told French publication L’ÉQUIPE. “We are waiting for permission to go to the airport, for the moment we are stranded. A plane is waiting for us, but we are not allowed to leave. And to get to the airport, it takes 45 minutes, an hour. When you hear gunshots outside, safety is not 100% guaranteed…
“We don’t know what’s going on outside the hotel. It’s been firing since 10 o’clock this morning. The presidential palace is not very far from us, in my opinion, there are not many people in the street. I saw soldiers running across the street. We do not know. The players are not reassured, the concern is there, for sure…
As for Guinea vs Morocco World Cup qualifiers, the Moroccan head coach said: “The match is already canceled. I was told that there was a possibility for the match to be played in Morocco, but I don’t know. For now, we’re stuck there, let’s see how it goes. We wait. I hope we will return to Morocco before dark. We have no information about our opponents.”
After a scary long day, the Moroccan national team was granted permission to leave the country on Sunday evening. The players and staff arrived in Morocco on Sunday night.
“Thank you all for the messages and the support, it has been a very intense day but thank God we are safe and sound in Morocco,” Hakimi tweeted.
As for Naby Keita, he was still in Guinea at the time of publishing this report. Reports claimed that Liverpool are in touch with him and are working on how he could return to England as soon as possible.