The majority of Bangladesh Premier League clubs have started pre-season preparations ahead of the start of the upcoming season from December 19 amid apprehension about a second wave of coronavirus.
After a seven-month coronavirus-induced break that saw with the cancellation of the 2019-20 season, the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) has taken initiatives to start the 2020-21 season in December. The transfer window opened on November 1 and will close on December 15, just four days before the start of the season's curtain-raising tournament, the Federation Cup.
Defending champions Bashundhara Kings, Abahani, Saif SC, Sheikh Jamal, Sheikh Russel, Mohammedan, Bangladesh Police, Arambagh and Muktijoddha Sangsad have started pre-season preparations while Chattogram Abahani, Brothers Union, Rahmatganj and Uttar Baridhara Club will start in the coming days.
Most clubs started preparations after conducting Covid-19 tests. Only Arambagh started training without conducting tests, but their players were kept in isolation for seven days before the start of training.
"Players were asked to report on November 7 with coronavirus certificates. They were in quarantine for three days at the club before all the players and coaching staff underwent another test under the supervision of the club," said Abahani manager Satyjit Das Rupu. "Everyone is worried about the pandemic and we are observing the situation. We are also worried about a second wave because the foreign players have yet to reach here."
Sheikh Russel sports director Sale Jamal Selim said: "We were a bit late in starting training, which got underway on Thursday at the Fortis ground after all the players and staff underwent tests. Now the boys will have two sessions each day for seven days to regain their fitness. But we are a bit worried about the current coronavirus situation, which has been worsening day by day."
"We can't understand the situation and we are even in doubt whether the season will start on time because of increasing cases of coronavirus," said Chattogram Abahani manager Arman Aziz. "The players are reporting from today [Friday] and we will have a three-week pre-season camp in Mymensingh from November 25 and all players and officials will undergo testing."
Rahmatganj general secretary Imtiaz Hamid Sabuj said: "We are really worried about the increasing number of Covid-19 cases because we don't know whether to pay the salaries of the foreign players again without playing." The players have started to report at the camp and the rest of the players will come within a few days with their test results. The club will conduct further testing before starting the camp within a short period of time, added Sabuj.
"Three foreign players from Congo and Ivory Cost were supposed to arrive on November 24 but they are now scheduled to arrive on November 27 following the cancelation of international flights. I am really tense about their arrival because international flights are being closed again," said Uttar Baridhara Club general secretary Jahangir Alam, adding that they would start training on December 1 after carrying out the testing for all players and staff.
Arambagh started their training in Nilphamari on Nov 17 after keeping all the players in isolation for seven days.
"The number of Covid-19 cases has been increasing and we can't deny reality, which seems to heading in same direction as last season. But we are positive that we can continue training ahead of Federation Cup. We are also thinking of appointing a doctor at the camp," said Arambagh vice president Eazaz Mohammad Jahangir.