Algerian club ES Setif on Sunday showed remarkable sportsmanship by allowing a delegation from cash-strapped CAF Champions League opponents Fortune of the Gambia to share a flight with them.
The Gambian side pulled off a stunning 3-0 preliminary round first-leg triumph at home in Bakau as they debuted in the elite African club competition on Sunday.
However, after celebrating goals from Ebrima Camara, Patrick Sylva and Alieu Barry against two-time African champions ES Setif, Fortune said that they lacked funds to play the return match.
Had they not traveled to Setif, a city 270km southeast of Algiers, Fortune would have been disqualified and ES Setif awarded a walkover into the round of 32.
The Algerians refused to take advantage of the Gambians’ financial woes and, instead, allowed them to fill vacant seats for the return flight, said a CAF official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Fortune officials did not immediately comment on how the club would pay for the players to return home from Algeria.
Clubs must win one or two home-and-away ties to reach the group stage of the CAF Champions League, where the prize money begins with qualifiers guaranteed a minimum of US$550,000.
If Fortune eliminate ES Setif and cause one of the biggest shocks in CAF Champions League history, they are to meet ESAE of Benin or Nouadhibou of Mauritania for a place in the 16-club group phase.