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‘Homesick’ Chinese teams stuck in Qatar after Champions League exit

Shanghai (AFP) – Guangzhou Evergrande players say they are homesick and desperate to return to China after being stuck in Qatar following their elimination from the AFC Champions League.

Fabio Cannavaro’s side are among three Chinese Super League teams still in Qatar despite being knocked out of the competition, with reports saying they are awaiting approval for a charter flight. 

The others are Shanghai clubs Shenhua and SIPG, with the former already stewing for a week since their continental title bid ended.

This year’s delayed Champions League is taking place behind closed doors in a secure “bubble” in Qatar because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Beforehand, global footballers union FIFPro accused the Asian Football Confederation of failing to consult players about moving the tournament to the nation hosting the 2022 World Cup.

With their season over and Cannavaro seemingly on the brink of the sack, Evergrande’s players have broken rank.

Midfielder Yan Dinghao wrote on the Twitter-like Weibo that he was on “the edge of collapse, really homesick”.

Team-mate He Chao added: “When will we be able to return????”

Forward Wei Shihao also wrote on Weibo: “I can only stay locked in my hotel room. I can’t see my family. I want to go home.” 

Thursday’s Shanghai Morning Post said CSL players were “exhausted physically and mentally” having already spent several months separated from family during the domestic season.

All four Chinese teams — Beijing Guoan play in the quarter-finals later Thursday — “expressed their desire” not go to Qatar in the first place, the newspaper said.

The Post said that the AFC subsidised meals and hotel accommodation while teams remained in the competition, but the clubs have to foot the bill once knocked out.

The AFC did not immediately respond to a request for comment about why teams had been unable to secure a flight home.

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