National defender Aubrey David says he is nervous but excited to resume play with Deportivo Saprissa in the Costa Rica Premier Division which was carded to kick-off on Wednesday night.
David is set to be the first T&T international footballer to return to competitive football tonight since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic halted most sports worldwide in mid-March as the league became the first football league in the Americas to start playing again following the break-in play, barring the Nicaraguan league, which never stopped.
Earlier this month, the Costa Rican government announced that professional sports can resume from May 15 with the Costa Rican Federation (UNAFUT) president Julian Solano confirming that play will resume behind closed doors on May 19 Tues), with Guadelupe versus Limon and Cartagines up against Alajuelense in the first two matches last night (Tuesday).
On Wednesday from 10 pm (TT time), the 29-year-old David and Deportivo Saprissa will resume at the top of the 12-team table with 33 points from 15 matches, four clear of bitter rival Alajuelense when they meet third-placed Herediano (26 points) at the Estadio Ricard Saprissa Ayma, San Juan de Tibas, San Jose.
Deportivo Saprissa last played on March 14, a 1-1 draw with Perez Zeledon with Guyana-born David featuring for 77 minutes before being substituted.
Costa Rica wasn't affected by COVID-19 outbreak as much as other countries, with 801 confirmed cases as of Monday evening over its population of just over 5 million.
The 29-year-old David has so far made 24 appearances for Saprissa this season, all as a starter and has picked up six yellow cards from a total of 45 matches in two seasons with the club and nine cautions with no red card expulsions.
Speaking on the eve of his team’s return to competition an upbeat David said there is a buzz of excitement in the team camp as the season resumes.
“It feels good to be playing again after not playing for a month-and-a-half. It will be good to get back to the stadium, seeing your team-mates and working together putting in the work again."
Despite teams now being allowed to use five substitutions, David was still eager to see how his legs and that of his team-mates hold up for the first match.
He said, “For me, it’s an overwhelming feeling and at the same time, I’m a bit nervous. In terms of fitness because we started back training two weeks ago and we did a lot of physical work, but as you know game fitness is different from physical work.
“So with the first game tomorrow (today) I am a bit nervous to see if the legs are ready for 90 minutes.
“Overall, the vibes in the camp is very good, everyone is eager to play again. Right now we are on top of the table, so everyone is motivated to play and continue our winning ways."
Central America football
Elsewhere in Central America, football authorities in El Salvador have already decided to end their league early with Once Deportivo being declared this year's Clausura champion following a decision by the country's football federation to prematurely end all football competitions from March 20, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Once Deportivo were leading the top-flight with 20 points after 11 games, one more point than the closest rival, El Vencedor when the football association postponed all competitions for 30 days on March 14 but then went a step further, when the country declared a state of emergency on March 15.
Among the T&T players affected by that decision were the trio of Jomal Williams (Isidro Metapan), Jamoul Francois (Independiente), and Jamal Jack (Jocoro), who are all still stranded in that country due to the closure of its international borders.
With the early end to the league, Independiente ended in the fourth position with 15 points, level with seventh-placed Isidro Metepan, while Jocoro was ninth, two points behind.
And for defender Mekeil Williams of Guatemala’s Municipal of Liga Nacional, the outcome of the season is not definite as yet as they sit in the second spot with 23 points from 13 matches, five adrift of leaders Comunicaciones one round into the second half of the season on the 12-team table.
Bateau's Belgium campaign ends in cancelled season
For national defender Sheldon Bateau his KV Mechelen club will have to look towards the 2020/2021 season whenever it starts after the Belgium Football Federation cancelled the remainder of the Belgian First Division A 2019/2020 campaign.
Last month, the Belgian top division was the first major league in Europe to end its 2019-20 season early due to COVID-19, with the current leaders named winners.
At the time of the league being halted, KV Mechelen was seventh on the 16-team table with 44 points from 29 matches, level with Genk and 26 behind Club Brugge. And on Friday last, the Belgium Football authorities confirmed that the current table will stand as the final one for the season.
Elsewhere, in Slovakia-based defender, Keston Julien’s Trencin club is set to return to competition on June 6; while former national midfielder Keon Daniel is attached to Polish I-League club, Tychy 71 on May 29.
Over in Norway, goalkeeper Nicklas Frenderup’s Stjordals-Blink is eto 1 Division competition while in Malta, Rundell Winchester’s Gudja United of the Premier League and Matthew Woo Ling and his St Andrews club are still awaiting a final decision by the association on the season.
In Iceland, the trio of Jonathan Glenn (IBV), Akil De Freitas (Volsungur) and Sean De Silva (Haukar) will begin the 2020 season on June 13, and in Wales, Luke Gullick, formerly of San Juan Jabloteh and his Pontypridd Town AFC is also awaiting a final decision on the campaign.