Virus to rob Matildas rival of stars for qualifiers
THE coronavirus outbreak in China appears to have cost the nation's women's football team two of their stars for next week's Olympic qualifiers in Sydney.
Experienced midfielder Wang Shuang and 22-year-old Yao Wei are reportedly among a group of players who won't travel with the team to next week's rescheduled qualifiers in Australia.
Titan Sports Plus, a Chinese sports media group, tweeted the pair are among several players from Wuhan who won't travel having returned to the city for the country's spring festival.
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Wuhan is a city in lockdown with flights and trains cancelled. It is the epicentre of the virus outbreak which has killed dozens and left thousands ill, and was also the original venue for the six matches for Group B in the final stage of qualifying for Tokyo 2020.
The matches were originally moved to Nanjing before being rescheduled to Sydney after China withdrew as hosts on Sunday.
Wang has played over 100 matches for the China national team, scoring 28 goals, while Yao was a member of the Steel Roses' World Cup squad last year and has scored three goals in her 18 national team appearances.
It's expected the Chinese team, along with fellow Group B opponents Taiwan and Thailand, will arrive in Australia over the weekend with matches to be played on February 3, 6 and 9.
Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday the team's pre-qualifying camp, which also had to be moved from Wuhan to Suzhou, is being held in complete isolation.
The agency says players have been asked by coaching staff to wear masks and avoid contact with others on their way to camp, which started on Sunday.
It's also understood the camp has been completely closed to outsiders to avoid the risk of infection.
Comment was being sort from the Chinese FA.