Moving past the fear of coronavirus infection, national footballers were looking forward to starting afresh as the first batch yesterday joined the training camp for the Joint Qualifiers for World Cup and Asian Cup at Sarah Resorts in Gazipur after four and a half months of inaction.
Team manager Satyajit Das Rupu informed defender Bishwanath Ghosh, who was part of the first batch of 12 players, will not join the camp as he tested positive for Covid-19 on August 3 as part of the Bangladesh Football Federation's (BFF's) prerequisites to join the camp. The BFF organised a second round of tests for the footballers and seven officials yesterday at the BSMMU before leaving for Gazipur yesterday evening.
Three more footballers – Suman Reza, MS Bablu and Nazmul Islam -- were found positive in yesterday's tests as those three, along with Bishwanath -- were eventually left behind in Dhaka.
The players are supposed to start low-intensity training this afternoon while the second batch of 12 footballers are scheduled to join the camp today after going through the Covid-19 tests. On Friday, seven other footballers will follow the same process, while captain Jamal Bhuiyan's and defender Tariq Raihan Kazi's presence will be subject to the availability of return flights to Bangladesh.
Head coach Jamie Day and assistant coach Stuart Watkiss are scheduled to arrive in Dhaka on August 16.
"My family did not want me to come to Dhaka during the coronavirus pandemic but I convinced them a month ago and continued training at my club ground," said midfielder Mohammad Abdullah, who was recalled to the preliminary squad after two years following an injury sustained in 2018.
"Everyone is scared of coronavirus but I am not worried because we have to overcome the barriers and if we can train while maintaining social distance, there is nothing to worry about," said the Sheikh Russel KC midfielder.
"I know it is now more challenging to secure a place in the final squad but I like the challenge because I know the pain of staying away from the national team," said Abdullah.
"Coronavirus is of course to be feared because we travelled from different districts to come to Dhaka and don't know each other's health conditions," said striker Suman Reza, who was later found to be Covid-positive.
Bangladesh will host Afghanistan in Sylhet on October 8 before travelling to Qatar to play their away match against the Asian Champions on October 13.