As he looked ahead to the beginning of the group stages of the Caf competitions, the coach of Champions League winners Mamelodi Sundowns lamented two aspects that might prove critical in the competitions.
"Jingles" believes South African teams are going to start the competition on the backfoot because Caf have fully taken over the decision regarding fixtures, and also because of the local league’s season.
“We are now getting the fixtures and kickoff times from Caf, they are telling us what time we must play. But in their decision, they have the Arab teams playing at night because of Ramadan. Ahmad Ahmad needs to come out now that he’s president. Why should we play at 10pm in Egypt? They get the advantage. I’d like to play in the middle of the day, but Caf have decided to take over in deciding the kickoff times. Is that fair,” Mosimane said.
That though is just one of his worries as he prepares to kick-start his team’s title defence against Saint George at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.
“The transfer window is open, the other teams (from other countries) are signing players. I also want to sign and strengthen for the Champions League, but I can’t because it is not open season in our league. Our teams are at a disadvantage,” Mosimane said.
Sundowns aren’t the only team in a predicament, with SuperSport United and Platinum Stars also involved in the Confederation Cup.
While Caf’s decision to accommodate Ramadan is something that has always been practised, there can be no denying it puts the other clubs at a disadvantage.
And to even things up, it would be fair were they to be allowed to pick what time to play when they hosted. And as Mosimane says, new Caf president Ahmad will do well to start pushing his weight about and do away with this seeming unfair advantage enjoyed by teams from North Africa.
As for the registration period, this is a problem SA can solve. For a while now, the PSL has spoken about a plan to switch the league back to a calendar-year to align clubs with the rest of the continent.
If that was done, teams competing in Caf competitions will always play in season instead of competing in June (like Sundowns did) when the rest of the local sides are on holiday. Also, it will mean that the clubs will be able to use all their players and never have a situation where those signed in the June-July transfer window can only participate in the tournaments later on.
Something’s obviously got to give if we are to realise our goal of being a dominant football force on the continent. Sundowns have shown it can be done with their triumph last season, and chances are we can be even that much more competitive if we are on a level footing with the rest of the continent in all aspects.
Are you listening Ahmad? Take heed PSL.