Matildas shrugs off Covid threat after India expelled from Asian Cup

Beneath every team in the Women’s Asian Cup 2022 in India is a trapdoor. The Omicron variant is sweeping the host country with over 300,000 cases reported daily. Already, it is claimed that the locals’ participation after an outbreak within the Indian camp prevented the hosts from fielding the minimum squad, led to their expulsion from the tournament after just one group game.

Despite strict biosecurity measures at their hotel and training base in Mumbai, the Matildas are not immune to a possible outbreak at their camp. Due to Asian Football Confederation regulations requiring a minimum match squad of 13 players, including two substitutes, it only takes 11 active cases within a team for a team to be removed from the competition.

The Matildas celebrate their victory over the Philippines in India Credit:Getty

So far, the Matildas have been safe and avoided contact with the cases. Testing is regular within their bubble and no player has contracted the virus since the camp was formed. When it comes to white noise, the potential to fall victim to an epidemic and suffer the fate of India is worrying. However, the Matildas are doing their best to ignore the rising tide of the pandemic in India.

“It’s a pandemic and we’re making sure we’re doing everything we can, but our only focus is football,” Matildas midfielder Emily van Egmond said. “We are here to perform, here to do a job and for us to keep putting our best foot forward on the park. We try not to focus on outside noise and only on what we can control.

The Matildas have all but sealed their passage to the quarter-finals. A 4-0 win against a Philippines side coached by Alen Stajcic on Monday night means they only need a draw against Thailand on Friday morning to claim top spot in their group. Australia are the absolute favorites to take all three points in this game and could even qualify for the knockout stages with an unlikely defeat, but van Egmond hinted there might not be widespread changes in a team to allow senior players to rest before the quarter. finals.

“We have a plan, we want to win against Thailand and have a good statement before the quarter-finals,” van Egmond said. “I think the most important thing is that we have 23 healthy and available players.”

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Meanwhile, Macarthur FC will have gone over a month without playing an A-League match after Wednesday’s game against Perth Glory was postponed on Tuesday afternoon. Perth has reported several positive cases of COVID-19 among its players, coaches and staff. The postponement is the fifth in a row for Macarthur who was the shock league leader before the outbreak of the Omicron Variant wreaked havoc in the A-League. The Bulls had won four of their six games this season, losing just once before facing a five-game postponement. They last played on Boxing Day against Sydney FC and will not play again until February 6 against Wellington Phoenix, should that match take place.

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