NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 10 – Depending on the situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chapa DImba Na Safaricom All Star team is still scheduled to travel to Madrid, Spain for a 10-day training camp, according to La Liga delegate for Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, Oliver Dodd.
The team had been initially scheduled to travel to Spain after the final round of regional matches, but with the situation around COVID-19 and the stoppages to all European leagues coupled with the banning of flights, the same was not possible
“We are in constant talks with Safaricom. It is difficult to know when the tournament will start again because it depends on the government. We will still go to Spain eventually with the chosen players from across the regions,” Dodd said on Wednesday during an Online meeting with regional journalists, alongside Spain legend Gaizka Mendieta.
Dodd added; “We will do that in December or November maybe, depending on how the situation will be. The tournament was postponed when it was headed towards the end and we have to finish first then organize the trip to Spain. It is something that will be done. We will go to Spain. It is just a question of when.”
The All-Star team made the first trip to Spain last year when the squad of 32 had training camps in the Catalunya region.
The tournament this year had the Nyanza and Western region finals pending after the government banned public gatherings in part of efforts of curtailing the spread of COVID-19.
-La Liga returning-
However, football is slowly returning to its feet with the Spanish La Liga set to become the second of the Major European leagues to re-start on Thursday with Sevilla taking on Real Betis at 11pm EAT.
Dodd took the journalists through the process that La Liga has taken to ensure that football returns, major of which are the health protocols taken to ensure everything is done within the right framework.
“We are definitely very excited with the return of La Liga. We will have 40 consecutive days of football until July 19, we are all very happy to see all these top teams back to action. Four time slots have been chosen for the games and each will be confirmed depending on the temperature because summers in Spain get too hot,” Dodd said.
Meanwhile, Spain legend Mendieta who enjoyed eight years playing at Valencia said it will be a challenging new normal for the teams as they get used to playing in empty stadium and coming off after a three-month break occasioned by the virus.
“It is a challenge that players will have to face playing without fans. Sometimes it affects the mood and the performance of the players because fans boost the confidence and energy. But, they have been preparing themselves to play without that kind of an atmosphere for a while now,” Mendieta said.
He adds; “We have seen in the Bundesliga that now the home teams are not more dominant in matches and that makes it more exciting.”
Dodd has meanwhile said La Liga has set up plans to have virtual home crowds during matches together with an applause at the 20th minute of each game from pre-recorded fans, dedicated to all victims of COVID -19 as part of the #BackToWin campaign.
With the long break occasioned by the virus and the fact that atmosphere will be different, there has been a thought that smaller teams might surprise the big ones, but Mendieta maintains he believes the status quo will remain.
“I think it will be the same but it will be definitely challenging because of the long break and the body has to be in constant communication with the body. I think the individual talent will make the difference. Managers will also have to be very clever in how they make their decisions,” the legend who also featured for Barcelona, Lazio and Middlesbrough stated.
La Liga Fixtures
Sevilla v Real Betis (11pm)
Granada v Getafe (8pm), Valencia v Levante (11pm)
Espanyol v Alaves (3pm), Celta Vigo v Villarreal (6pm), Leganes v Real Valladolid (8:30pm), Mallorca v Barcelona (11pm)
Athletic Bilbao v Atletico Madrid (3pm), Real Madrid v Eibar (8:30pm), Real Scciedad v Osasuna (11pm)