Cameroon’s disastrous World Cup build-up took another farcical twist on Thursday when a plane carrying the squad to Japan was forced to spend seven hours in Bangkok before it was granted flyover permission by three countries.
The plane, which was flying from Bombay, landed in Bangkok at 9.00 amafter the pilot realised he did not have permission from Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines to fly over their airspace, said an official at Bangkok International Airport.
“They asked for emergency landing permission,” said the official, who handles special flights.
The Boeing 757, which was carrying 30 passengers destined for the city of Fukuoka in Japan, departed Bangkok at 4:09 pm after finally securing special permission from the three countries, she said.
An official at the Embassy of the Philippines in Bangkok said it was extraordinary that a charter flight would not confirm the flyover rights ahead of time.
It was not clear why the flight took off from Bombay without prior clearance from the Southeast Asian countries.
The Indomitable Lions were already two days behind schedule after a dispute over player bonuses held them up in Paris for 48 hours.
The Olympic and African champions had been originally scheduled to arrive on Sunday at their training camp in Nakatsue village, deep in the mountains of the southern Japanese island of Kyushu.
Nakatsue, whose 1,400 villagers rely on the lumber industry on the outskirts of a smouldering volcano, have spent some 100 million yendollars) to improve lodging and football facilities for camp training by Cameroon.
Because of the delay, Nakatsue villagers had to cancel several events, including a welcome ceremony and a practice match with local high school students.
Cameroon are due to play England in a World Cup warm up in Kobe in western Japan on Sunday.
The Olympic and African champions will launch their bid for Africa’s first World Cup trophy on June 1 when they face Group E rivals Ireland. Germany and Saudi Arabia make up the group.