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SINGAPORE – A Tampines Rovers footballer tested positive for the coronavirus upon the team’s return from their Asian Champions League (ACL) campaign in Uzbekistan on Monday (July 12).

He is believed to be the first Singaporean athlete to have contracted Covid-19 while on duty.

The club said that the player, who is believed to be unvaccinated, is asymptomatic and The Straits Times understands that he remains under observation at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.

Tampines had been in Tashkent for their maiden ACL campaign and their journey home included a nine-hour transit in Dubai. Their involvement in the group stage of the continent’s top club competition kicked off on June 25 and ended on July 10.

In a press statement, the club said: “All the members of our travelling party observed a strict protocol and were confined within a playing bubble with regular Covid-19 tests before every match in Tashkent.

“The rest of our squad are all serving a two-week quarantine at designated quarantine hotels in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s protocols.

“We would like to wish our colleague a speedy recovery and thank the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) and the MOH (Ministry of Health) for all the assistance they have rendered us.”

Tampines Rovers chairman Desmond Ong said the club has been in touch with the player’s family and will offer “every bit of support needed”.

He said: “We’ll be there, whatever they need. He’s a young strong footballer in the prime of his life and he’s asymptomatic. He’s our player and has come through the ranks with us. We wish him a speedy recovery.”

The Stags lost all of their six matches in Uzbekistan against South Korea’s Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, Japan’s Gamba Osaka and Thailand’s Chiangrai United, scoring once and conceding 27 goals.

At home, they are currently fourth in the SPL with 21 points, six points behind leaders Albirex Niigata.

Their domestic campaign had been due to resume on Aug 4 after a 14-day quarantine, during which ST understands they had an arrangement to be placed in a “training bubble” similar to that enjoyed by the national team last month.

Then, the FAS had requested that the Lions be placed in a “training bubble” upon their return from Saudi Arabia, where they had spent two weeks playing three World Cup qualifiers. The players were allowed to have multiple training sessions at Geylang Field, located along Geylang Lorong 12, so that they could maintain their fitness levels. It is understood that the national team were given priority to be vaccinated, unlike the SPL clubs, who had to wait their turn.

The FAS has now indicated that Tampines’ Aug 4 fixture against Lion City Sailors could be delayed.

In a statement on the SPL website, it said: “The FAS will take all necessary measures to ensure that health and safety of the TRFC players and officials, as well as those from the SPL participating clubs, are prioritised before TRFC are given clearance to safely return to training and competitive matches after their quarantine period.”



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