After feeling the devastation caused by the earthquake that struck Morocco on Friday, the coach of The Gambia, Tom Saintfiet, said he feared an airplane had crashed into his hotel.
The Belgian and his team are now in Marrakesh preparing for their upcoming qualifier against Congo for the Africa Cup of Nations.
More than 820 people have been confirmed dead as a direct result of the earthquake, according to the country’s interior ministry.
People in Marrakesh and other places were seen running into the streets after the magnitude 6.8 earthquake that occurred.
What exactly has been going on in Morocco?
Saintfiet referred to the event as “shocking and terrible” in his account of it.
“At first I heard a lot of noise and thought it was someone knocking on my door,” he explained to Mani Djazmi of the BBC World Service. “At first I thought it was someone knocking on my door.”
Because our location is so close to the airport, I initially believed that an airplane had crashed into the hotel, but after a few more seconds, I realized that it was actually an earthquake.
“It looks like it was only thirty seconds, but it seemed like an eternity. It was a terrifying experience. Things started to fall from the ceiling and the walls, and the walls themselves were shaking quite violently. In all my years, I have never ever witnessed a building move in such a way.
“When it finally stopped, I began running and checking to see if the other members of my team had also emerged from their rooms.
“After that, we bolted out of the building and made our way to the pool area, where we huddled together with the other hotel guests and dozed out in the open air because we were informed we couldn’t go back to our rooms.
“It was terrifying in the extreme. Throughout the night, we could hear ambulances, and we kept checking the news. It is a dreadful experience for both of us, but more so for all of the victims who lost their lives and for the people of Morocco.
The match on Sunday, which was supposed to determine who advances to the African Cup of Nations finals in the Ivory Coast the following year, was moved to the city of Marrakech in Morocco due to the fact that the stadium in The Gambia was considered inadequate to hold international matches.
The Confederation of African Football and the Moroccan FA are currently having discussions over whether or not the game will really go place; nevertheless, the qualifying match between Morocco and Liberia that was scheduled to take place in Agadir on Saturday has already been postponed.
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) released the following statement: “The national football family extends its sincere condolences and compassion to the families of the victims and wishes a speedy recovery to the injured.”
Achraf Hakimi, a defender for Morocco and Paris Saint-Germain, wrote the following message on social media: “We are going through a difficult time for all of our fellow citizens.” Now is the moment for everyone to work together to try and save as many lives as they can. My deepest sympathies go out to everyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one.
Saintfiet went on to say that some of the team members who play in Turkey had also experienced the earthquake that occurred in Turkey in February, which claimed the life of former Newcastle star Christian Atsu, and that they were in a state of shock.
He stated, “I am aware that a number of players do not wish to participate in the game tomorrow.”
“We are sportsmen, and we want to qualify and to be fair, but a lot of players’ heads are not at all on football, and that’s frustrating to us.
If there have been so many deaths in this city, do you really think it’s a good idea to allow us play football? Could we possibly play sometime in October?
“At the moment, the focus is not on football but rather on the welfare of the players and of all the people in Morocco and Marrakech.”