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Myanmar withdraws from U23 soccer tournament due to virus

February 15, 2022 GMT

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Myanmar withdrew Tuesday from the ASEAN Football Federation’s under-23 Championship in Cambodia after warning that its coronavirus-hit squad was a “danger” to opponents.

“Our main concern is the safety of our players because the life of every single player is more important than any football match,” Velizar Popov, Myanmar’s Bulgarian coach, posted on his Facebook page.

“At the moment we have only five fully fit players out of 26 players squad without COVID-19 symptoms — all others players are positive and symptomatic, so in this critical situation we are contagious and also (a) danger for our opponents,” Popov wrote, adding that it had no choice “but to withdraw from the tournament.”

AFF president Khieu Sameth said Myanmar was set to play its first match on Tuesday against Malaysia, in the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, but then asked to withdraw.

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“It is with great regret that the Myanmar U23 team has to withdraw from the AFF U23 Championship,” Sameth said on the ASEAN Football Federation website. “However, the health and safety of everyone involved are of utmost importance and we fully understand the decision that has been taken.”

He said that Myanmar’s team would stay in Cambodia while its infected players received treatment and fly back home once the players tested negative.

Defending champion Indonesia withdrew on Friday. It told the AFF that several squad members tested positive for the virus before departing for Cambodia, and it did not travel to the tournament.

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