Bhawanipore FC’s preparations for the upcoming I-League qualifiers suffered a setback after two of its players were found positive for COVID-19 on Sunday.

Goalkeeper Akash Mondal and mid-fielder Sudipto Malakar were found positive following RT-PCR tests of all the 40 players and support staff during the camp, confirmed coach Sankarlal Chakraborty.

“They did not have any symptoms. They will be in home isolation now. After four days they will be tested again,” Chakraborty said.

The team has been training for about a month now after a long lay-off.

Camp won’t be affected

“The camp won’t be affected. Only two out of the 40 in the camp tested positive. Preparation is going great, we are doing our best for qualification. But it will be competitive, all teams are strong.”

Bhawanipore FC will kick off the tournament against FC Bengaluru United at the Salt Lake Stadium on October 8 and Chakraborty was unhappy with the 12.30 p.m. start. “Everyone will be coming after a prolonged lay-off and it’s not the way to start a tournament. We have two matches at 12.30 p.m.,” he said.

The tournament will bring an end to the prolonged halt of sporting events in the country since the COVID-19 pandemic in March and the AIFF is maintaining strict health protocols by creating bio-secure bubble for the players and officials.

Two Kolkata teams, Bhawanipore FC 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.

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