“But there is nothing you can do about it. Now the epidemic back home is more serious.
“The club management provides psychological counselling to the players to make the atmosphere as happy and harmonious as possible.”
There are no known fatalities in Chinese football from the outbreak, but a youth player at second-tier Zhejiang Greentown tested positive for the new coronavirus, the club said this week.
– Taking no chances –
Beijing Guoan, who have London-born Chinese international Nico Yennaris in their squad, play away at Thailand’s Chiangrai United in the AFC Champions League next week as they return to competitive action for the first time since December 1.
The squad are already training in Thailand, having been on South Korea’s Jeju island. The club are taking no chances, gauging the players’ temperatures twice a day and making them wear masks while travelling.
Zhou Jinhui, the club chairman, visited the team on Tuesday and acknowledged that the players had been torn from their families at a difficult time.
“This situation is the first time for everyone here today. To be honest, I have no good way to solve it,” said Zhou.
But he hopes that Beijing can beat Chiangrai to lift the spirits of football fans all over China.
“You don’t only have to go all-out, but you also need to adjust your mindset,” he told the players.
“Because for this game, not only will Beijing fans pay attention, but also many fans across the country will be watching.”