China PR

Wuhan Zall make emotional return home


Shanghai: Wuhan Zall, the Chinese Super League team from the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, made an emotional return to the city after more than three months torn from their families.

Wuhan Zall endured a turbulent 104 days on the road, including being stranded in Spain, because Wuhan was sealed off in January due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city is now emerging from its weeks-long lockdown and hundreds of chanting fans met the Wuhan Zall players when they arrived at Wuhan's train station late Saturday, state media said.

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Wearing masks, the players had bouquets of flowers thrust into their hands while supporters clad in the team's orange colours held banners and sang.

"After more than three months of wandering, the homesick Wuhan Zall team members finally set foot in their hometown," the team said on the Twitter-like Weibo.

The squad, led by their Spanish head coach Jose Gonzalez, will now spend a few days at home before resuming training on Wednesday.

"The local players will be reunited with their families, having not seen them for more than three months," said Wuhan Zall, who finished sixth last year in the top-flight CSL.

"The club is very grateful for the support and understanding of the players' families."

The squad's return home is the final chapter in a long saga.

They began training for the new Chinese Super League season, since postponed indefinitely, in early January in the southern city of Guangzhou.

They flew to Malaga, Spain towards the end of January, by which time the city of Wuhan and its 11 million people were under restrictions because of the coronavirus outbreak.

But when the virus began taking hold in Spain in March, Wuhan Zall made arrangements to fly back to China, where the number of infections was slowing markedly.

Wuhan was still sealed off so the squad, via a prolonged transit in Germany, flew to China PR's southern city of Shenzhen on March 16.

They went into three weeks of quarantine, followed by training in the nearby city of Foshan, before taking a high-speed train from Guangzhou to Wuhan on Saturday evening.

Source: AFP

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