NorthEast United resume ISL 2020-21 preparations after COVID-19 scare

With the infected players moved to an alternate facility and their COVID-19 tests returning negative, the team is set to return to training.

By Naveen Peter

Preparations for the upcoming Indian Super League (ISL) received a set-back when two players from the NorthEast United FC team tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

The entire team was pushed into a temporary quarantine as a result with members allowed to return to the ISL bio-bubble only after two of their RT-PCR tests returned negative.

While the infected players were shifted to a different facility, where they continue their mandatory quarantine as per ISL’s Health and Safety Guidelines, the team will resume with its preparations later on Wednesday. The COVID-19 positive players are set to be out of action for at least 10 days.

“The two players were immediately moved to a different facility where they are undergoing quarantine as per the league guidelines and protocols. They are in good health and have been participating in the team’s fitness sessions via Zoom calls,” NorthEast United FC said in a statement

“The subsequent tests of the other players and staff were all negative, and the team's scheduled training session will be underway from today.”

Despite the hiccup, ISL 2020-21 is set to go ahead as per schedule with the opening game on Friday. NorthEast United FC will face Mumbai City FC on Saturday.

“I don’t see any provision for matches to be pushed to a further date,” a source close to the development told the Olympic Channel.

“With matches scheduled every day, it’s difficult to see how the calendar will work if a match is postponed. Moreover, ISL’s guidelines have provisions for such incidences and I am sure the necessary steps are taken to ensure that NorthEast (United) can field a team for Saturday’s game.”

NorthEast United have been allotted the Panchayat ground in Candolim, a town in North Goa, as their training facility for the season.

The Gerard Nus-coached team has been busy shaping up for the season since October and has also played a handful of friendlies against fellow ISL teams like Jamshedpur FC and Hyderabad FC as a part of its tune-up.

Though the recent setback came as a surprise, that didn’t stop NorthEast United from continuing with their preparations as the players were handed ‘room workouts’ for the past few days.

“We had two sessions inside the room. In the morning, we focused on lower strength while the evening was dedicated to HIIT (high-intensity interval training),” a team source told Times of India.

During this period, the team was forbidden from any indoor group activities with meals being served in the members’ respective rooms. However, with the COVID-afflicted players being moved to an alternate facility, normalcy is set to return to NorthEast United FC camp.

Lead photo: NEUFC/ Twitter