Morocco team stranded in Guinea after apparent coup sees match postponed
By Tom Gott
The Morocco national team were left locked in a hotel in Guinea after the two sides' World Cup qualifier on Monday was postponed because of an attempted coup by armed soldiers.
Early on Sunday - the same day Argentina vs Brazil was suspended in its own storm of chaos - armed forces stormed the Guinea presidential office in Conakry and effectively brought the country to a stand-still. Protesters claimed to have closed all the country's borders, although government officials have denied that is the case.
The match between Morocco and Guinea was quickly postponed due to the chaos, and Morocco manager Vahid Halilhodzic confessed to L'Equipe that they had been left in a hotel while gunshots echoed around them.
"We are at the hotel, we hear gunshots nearby all day," he said. "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 really know what's going on outside the hotel. Shots have been firing since 10 o'clock on Sunday 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. This situation is bizarre. The Moroccan authorities, including Her Majesty, are very committed to helping us."
The tension in Guinea stems from pre-existing frustrations towards president Alpha Conde, who last year altered the country's constitution to allow him to run for a third term. Protesters have never been far from his palace but things escalated to a scary new level on Sunday.
As far as the match is concerned, FIFA confirmed that they are looking into possible dates to re-arrange it.
"The current political and security situation in Guinea is quite volatile and is being closely monitored by FIFA and CAF," a statement read.
"To ensure the safety and security of all players and to protect all match officials, FIFA and CAF have decided to postpone the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying match Guinea vs. Morocco, which had scheduled to be hosted in Conakry, Guinea, on Monday 6 September. Rescheduling information will be made available at a later date."