Santosh Trophy postponed amid coronavirus fears

Santosh Trophy postponed
The tournament was originally scheduled to start in Aizawl, Mizoram, on April 14.

Thrissur: The All India Football Federation (AIFF) has decided to postpone the final round of the 74th edition of the Santosh Trophy in view of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The tournament was originally scheduled to start in Aizawl, Mizoram, on April 14. A fresh date will be announced later, the officials said.

The Kerala team’s preparatory camp, which was scheduled to be held at the Corporation Stadium in Thrissur between March 11 to April 10, has also been postponed.

The Kerala Football Association (KFA) had released a list of 29 probables who were asked to report to head coach Bino George on Wednesday. The KCA officials clarified that the training and conditioning camp was postponed only by four days and the decision had nothing to do with the spread of COVID-19.

Earlier, the AIFF had postponed India’s FIFA World Cup qualifier match against Qatar, scheduled on March 26 in Bhubaneswar, as well as the team’s training camp due to the spread of coronavirus. An update on India’s remaining fixtures of the World Cup qualifiers will be provided after taking stock of the situation, a source in the AIFF said.

Meanwhile, Bino George confirmed that he had received an official intimation from the state body on the cancellation of the Santosh Trophy preparatory camp. All the shortlisted players were being informed about the development. The rooms reserved for the shortlisted players will be cancelled. However, no specific information has been passed on to either the coaching staff or the players about the rescheduled date, it was learnt.

Dismissing the reports that the Kerala team’s preparatory camp was cancelled due to the coronavirus threat, KFA general secretary P Anil Kumar said: “Some of the probables have played in the second division of the I-League. They are still awaiting clearance from the AIFF to play in the national championship. Also, we are yet to take a decision on the proposal to include some of the Kerala-born footballers in the squad who play in the Karnataka domestic league.”

He hoped that the cloud of uncertainty hanging over the conduct of the preparatory camp would be lifted by Saturday. “The training programme was postponed by four days due to technical reasons. We have not received any instruction from the departments of sports or health to cancel the camp,” he added.

COVID-19 scare grips Mizoram

The coronavirus fears have also jeopardised Mizoram’s preparations for hosting the final round of the Santosh Trophy at its capital Aizawl. According to reports, as many as 41 persons are under quarantine in the state with coronavirus-like symptoms.

Amid growing concern related to the spread of the deadly virus, the state authorities have decided to suspend sports events and other forms of gatherings.

The rescheduling of the event has also put the participating teams in a spot as it would affect sponsorship deals.

Six-time champions Kerala were scheduled to play Delhi on April 15. The other teams in the group are Jharkhand, Meghalaya, and Services.

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