Atlas Lions of Morocco Escape Guinea Coup

After being holed up in their hotel during the initial hours of a military uprising in Guinea, grateful Moroccan footballers and support staff poured out their hearts in a spirited rendition of the national anthem as they departed Guinea.

Morocco’s national team was in Conakry ahead of World Cup qualifier on Monday, but woke a day before the match, to the sound of gunfire near their hotel as soldiers sought to topple Guinea’s President Alpha Conde.

Moroccan diplomats negotiated a departure for their team amid the uncertainty and the squad flew out of the country late on Sunday, just hours after the match had been called off.

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Players posted pictures and videos on social media of the passengers bursting into an animated rendering of the anthem as the plane took off for Morocco.

When the flight arrived in the capital Rabat early on Monday, Paris St Germain fullback Achraf Hakimi tweeted: “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.”

Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic earlier described the anguish of his squad as they were stranded in their hotel not far from the presidential palace.

There has been no immediate word on the fate of Guinea’s large contingent of European-based players, including captain Naby Keita of Liverpool.

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The English Premier League side said it was in touch with authorities in Guinea to safely bring back the midfielder.

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