'We can't move': Scary scenes as footballers trapped by military coup

·4-min read
Pictured here, Liverpool's Naby Keita and soldiers involved in a Guinea a military coup.
Liverpool's Naby Keita was one of the Guinea players trapped in his homeland after a military coup. Pic: Getty

English Premier League giants Liverpool say they're in "constant contact" with Naby Keita, after the star midfielder became trapped in his native Guinea due to an apparent military coup.

Keita and his Guinea teammates were blocked in their home country after the military takeover, before their World Cup qualifier was postponed.

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Liverpool have confirmed that their player is "safe and well" after his side's preparations were rocked when a group of soldiers detained 83-year-old president Alpha Conde.

After hours of gunfire and unrest, Guinea's World Cup qualifier against Morocco on Monday was eventually postponed.

Pictured here, Members of Guinea's armed forces celebrate after the arrest of Guinea's president, Alpha Conde.
Members of Guinea's armed forces celebrate after the arrest of Guinea's president, Alpha Conde, in a coup taken place in the country's capital. Pic: Getty

A Liverpool spokesman said the club was in "constant contact" with Keita and had had "regular communication" with the management of his national team.

"We are satisfied that he is safe and well cared for," the spokesman told Britain's PA news agency.

Five of the Guinea squad play in France - Issiaga Sylla of Toulouse, Florentin Pogba of Sochaux, Abdoulaye Sylla (Nantes), Saidou Sow (Saint-Etienne) and Clermont forward Mohamed Bayo.

A source at one of the French clubs, who asked not to identified, told AFP that clubs in Europe were working to arrange a private jet to bring back the players "as soon as possible".

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.

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.

Gunshots rang out across Guinea capital 

Mutinous soldiers led by the former commander of Guinea's special forces unit detained President Conde on Sunday after heavy gunfire rang out near the presidential palace in Conakry. 

Images of Conde, looking dishevelled and in military custody, were released. The junta leaders announced they had 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.

Seen here, People celebrate in the streets with members of Guinea's armed forces after the arrest of the country's president.
People celebrate in the streets with members of Guinea's armed forces after the arrest of Guinea's president, Alpha Conde. Pic: Getty

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.

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."

with agencies

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