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FC Goa's foreign contingent to return home as India's COVID-19 cases surge

Jorge Ortiz celebrates with his teammates after scoring FC Goa's opener vs Al Rayyan. FC Goa

FC Goa's foreign players and head coach will cut short their AFC Champions League stints to return home as India struggles with a massive surge in COVID-19 cases, the club said on Thursday.

Captain Edu Bedia, defender Ivan Gonzalez, midfielder Jorge Ortiz, head coach Juan Ferrando and conditioning coach Javi Gonzalez -- all Spaniards -- plus Australia's James Donachie are among the contingent leaving India over fears that further delays could result in them being locked down in the country.

FC Goa, in their maiden campaign in the AFC Champions League, the continent's elite club competition, have failed to progress with three points from five matches so far and conclude their Group E games against second-placed Al Wahda on Thursday.

"FC Goa would like to inform that the club's foreign contingent including the Head Coach and foreign staff have been advised to travel back home immediately," the club said in a statement.

"This comes as a pre-emptive measure in view of recent policies being taken by European and other countries in regards to travellers from India as the nation battles the second wave of COVID-19 which has engulfed the country. While the AFC Champions League remains an important competition for FC Goa, the club management felt the well-being of the players to be its first and foremost responsibility."

India's daily COVID-19 cases continued to soar on Thursday, passing 18 million after another world record daily infection tally.

The country reported 379,257 new COVID-19 cases and 3,645 new deaths on Thursday, the highest number of deaths in a single day in India since the start of the pandemic.