The rest of the 24 players along with support staff of the Kolkata-based side have tested negative.

Second division side Bhawanipore FC have been dealt a heavy blow to their preparations for the upcoming I-League second division qualifiers as two of their players have tested positive for Covid-19, reports TOI. The Kolkata-based club held first of two RT-PCR test (gold standard) recently and two results came up positive.

Goalkeeper Akash Mondal and winger Sudipto Malakar are the ones infected with the virus and have been sent home to self-isolate for two weeks, while the other 24 players along with support staff all tested negative. But the 23-year-old goalkeeper and 20-year-old winger will now be on the sidelines for a period and could miss the first few games of qualifiers for Bhawanipore FC.

Bhawanipore FC head coach Shankarlal Chakraborty spoke to TOI about the developments, “These two players are talented and promising players. They were training well and showed no sign of any symptoms. It is surely a big blow for us. They have been sent back home. But all others tested negative.”

“We will again take the second round of Covid-19 test on Wednesday. I hope they (Akash, Sudipto) will be allowed to be allowed to take the test. If they are not allowed then I think we will miss them in the first couple of games.”

It is unlikely that the players will be fit enough for the first game of the qualifiers for Bhawanipore FC against FC Bengaluru United on October 8 at the Salt Lake Stadium. Incidentally, that will be the first match of the qualifiers which will be wrapped up on October 19, a few days before the Durga Puja celebrations in West Bengal.

As part of ensuring utmost protection and health of the teams and everyone involved in the games, the All India Football Federation (AIFF) will keep all relevant parties in a bio-bubble in Kolkata. They will all stay at five star hotels in Kolkata, isolated from everyone else and will not be able to interact with anyone else during that period.

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But before reporting for the qualifiers, every team will have to take multiple RT-PCR tests and unfortunately, Bhawanipore FC are the first side to be dealt a blow with Covid-19 positive cases. With a few weeks left for the new term, it remains to be seen how teams maintained utmost caution while preparing for the chance to play in the I-League next season.

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