ANFA starts PCR tests of national players, officials ahead of trainingThe football governing body to conduct test of all individuals who will come in contact with players.
The All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) on Monday began PCR tests for footballers before starting a training camp for the national team for Asian qualifiers of FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023.
The football governing body has invited 34 players for the preliminary training to prepare the team for the remaining three home matches of the qualifiers.
According to the national football team manager Madhusudan Upadhyaya, altogether 25 individuals’, including 11 players,' throat swabs were collected on Monday at Patan Hospital.
"Throat swabs of 30 more, including of the remaining 23 players, will be collected on Tuesday," said Upadhyaya.
Apart from 11 players, coach Kiran Shrestha and physiotherapist Aviskar Pudasaini, six kitchen staffers of ANFA hostel, two cleaners and four caretakers of ANFA also had their swab collected for coronavirus test.
"Once the results of the tests come all the players and coaches with negative reports will be housed at ANFA hostel while other staff will be live there from today," said Upadhyaya. "
The training camp is scheduled to begin on August 17.
All 34 players have been in quarantine since July 31. Among them 23 players were in self-quarantine at their homes in Kathmandu while 11 players who do not have houses or apartments in Kathmandu have been staying at a hotel arranged by ANFA since July 31.
According to Upadhyaya, altogether 70 persons expected to have close contact with the football team will undergo PCR test. "Apart from players, ball boys, kitchen staff, cleaning staff, managers and other technical manpower required for the training and hostel housekeeping will undergo coronavirus tests by Wednesday.”
Raju Dangol Maharjan of National Sports Council, the team doctor, said that ANFA is following all the health and safety guidelines set by world football governing body FIFA and Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
Besides coronavirus tests of individuals disinfection of the hostels, ANFA building and ground have been going on a regular basis, said Dangol.
"Apart from this, the ground will also be sanitised every evening once the training is over. Every player must use their personal equipment including having their own water bottles. No one from outside the team will be allowed to enter ANFA premises at Satdobato," said Dangol.
Nepal are set to host the remaining three home matches of Group B against Chinese Taipei on October 8, Australia on October 13 and Jordan on November 12. The matches were postponed from the original date due to coronavirus fears. Had the matches take place as per the original fixture dates Nepal should have played those three remaining matches by June 9.
But the fixtures are still uncertain. FIFA and AFC will finalise the matches only after assessment of the home country’s situation.
Apart from Chinese Taipei, Australia and Jordan, the five team group also has Kuwait.
Nepal played their first four matches of the qualifiers at away venues due to unavailability of a stadium that met international standards. The only international stadium – Dasharath Stadium was undergoing renovation then after the April 2015 earthquake and was being prepared for the South Asian Games held in December last year.
Despite the plans to start training after one week, national team head coach Johan Kalin is still at his home country Sweden and his return to Nepal Nepal is uncertain, because of the travel restriction imposed by the Swedish government. His deputy Kiran Shrestha and goalkeeping coach Bikash Malla will conduct training in his absence.