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The training took place as normally as possible. The course went as if nothing had happened. "Nothing has changed here"regrets Hubert Velud, the French coach of the Sudan national team. In a few days, the Nile Crocodiles, nickname of the formation, were to face Ghana on the lawn of the Black Stars. But faced with the coronavirus pandemic, the African Football Confederation (CAF) recently decided to postpone the matches of the third and fourth days of qualifiers for the African Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021, scheduled between March 25 and 31 .
The question therefore arose of stopping the rally. "My technical staff and I were not very favorable to his pursuit, explains Hubert Velud to World Africa. The federation yes. Besides, when you listen to it, there are no problems. " For the moment, in Sudan, only two Covid-19 positive cases and one death have been identified, but the coach no longer wants to stay in Khartoum. "Even less since the national championship was stopped three days ago", he adds.
The federation asked him to continue the internship until March 31. Hubert Velud, 60, decided to end it and return to Paris via Dubai on a flight supposed to take off on Saturday March 21. "The federation will have to accept, otherwise, if there is a dispute, FIFA will decide, he asserts. I don't want to be the coach who insists on continuing the training and putting my players at risk. I have an image to defend. "
During the course, no player, according to Mr. Velud, made the famous barrier gestures. Neither local journalists. "They were all shaking hands. I greeted them from afar, he assures. I’ve been as careful as possible, I’ve put a distance each time. But when I tell Sudanese players and journalists what's going on in France, it makes them smile, they don't believe me. They do not realize the gravity of the situation. And it’s not for lack of pedagogy. "
When the technician read an article on the World Health Organization (WHO) calling on the African continent to " to wake up " and to "Prepare for the worst" faced with the spread of the pandemic, he said to himself: " It's exactly that ! When the epidemic arrives here, it will be anything, it will be general panic. There are no beds in hospitals, describes the Frenchman. And we're going to drop the players in the wild. They were almost safer at the rally than outside with their families. "
In this bizarre atmosphere, the coach – who was appointed to this position on January 28 – was able to " really good " get to know its internationals. "What matters to me is their health, because I don't know when I will come back", he says.
Until now, Hubert Velud has been in his hotel in Khartoum. The cleaning ladies, he said, wore a mask. Since Saturday, he has been trying to return to France and return to his house in Corsica, near Bastia. "I'm not really afraid, but there is a little anxiety, that of travel, of airports, he admits. I know when I will leave, but not when I will arrive. "