Bhawanipore FC’s preparations for the upcoming I-League qualifiers suffered a setback after two of its players tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.
Goalkeeper Akash Mondal and midfielder Sudipto Malakar's tests returned positive following RT-PCR tests of all the 40 players and support staff during the camp.
“They did not have any symptoms. They will be in home isolation now. After four days they will be tested again,” coach Sankarlal Chakraborty told PTI .
The team has been training for about a month now after a long lay-off. “The camp won’t be affected. Only two out of the 40 in the camp were returned positive. Our preparation is going great and we are doing our best for qualification,” he added.
Bhawanipore will begin its I-League qualifiers campaign against FC Bengaluru United at the Salt Lake Stadium on October 8 at 12.30 pm.
Chakraborty, however, was unhappy with the match timing. “Everyone will be coming after a prolonged lay-off and it’s not the way to start a tournament. We have two matches at 12.30pm,” he said.
Two Kolkata teams, Bhawanipore and Mohammedan Sporting, along with three others -- ARA FC, Garhwal FC and FC Bengaluru United -- will compete against each other once in a round-robin format to determine the sole qualifying team.
Singling out Mohammedan Sporting as his side's strongest opponent, he said: “Obviously Mohammedan Sporting are one of the top teams. They have some good players. Also, the weight of the history of the club is also a huge motivator for the players.
“They know the kind of love and adoration they would get from their fans, if they do gain promotion. I believe that this support will be an added advantage for them,” he said.
“FC Bengaluru United are also a good side. They have assembled a good squad that plays an attractive brand of football. They also have some important players who can turn the game at crucial stages,” he added.
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