Durban - Chaos continued to reign in the Premier Soccer League, after the league on Monday unexpectedly announced more changes to their fixture programme.
Kaizer Chiefs were set to face Platinum Stars in a Telkom Knockout semi-final this Saturday, but the PSL said on Monday that match had been shifted to November 23 to ensure it played on the same day as the other semi between SuperSport United and Orlando Pirates.
Initially, the league reserved this weekend exclusively for the Knockout semis, but with Pirates playing the first of the African Champions League final against Al Ahly, of Egypt, on Saturday evening, it would have been impossible to fixture the SuperSport-Bucs match.
But it was thought the Chiefs-Stars tie would go ahead, as announced by the PSL’s Derek Blanckensee live on television last week after the semi-final draw.
However, Blanckensee was singing a different tune on Monday: “Due to the CAF Champions League final, we couldn’t play both semi-finals on the same weekend. We decided that we should move the semis to a later date where we could play both games,” he said.
The latest postponement will affect an entire block of fixtures set for November 22-24, with high-profile league games including Mamelodi Sundowns v Chiefs and Pirates v SuperSport set aside for a later date, which the league has yet to identify.
Asked why the league could reschedule the Golden Arrows-Chiefs match, postponed from last week, to this weekend, he wrote: “It is too late to fixture (that) match because of our rules, and because a match of this nature requires a lot of organisation and planning by the home club.”
Ironically though, Platinum Stars themselves have a league match this Sunday, against SuperSport, which has been brought forward from next Tuesday.
Pirates’ match against Black Aces, which was set for next week Wednesday, has also been shifted to an unknown date as the Buccaneers will depart for Cairo on that day for their second leg final against Ahly, which takes place on Sunday November 10.
Bucs have played just three league games this term, and the PSL earlier this month conceded in an interview with this newspaper that it had not anticipated Pirates’ great run in the Champions League, which primarily necessitated these countless fixture changes.
Should they win the Champions League, Pirates would throw the league’s programme into further chaos as they’d have to take part in the Fifa World Club Championship in Morocco from December 11-22, and the PSL has scheduled them to play three games in that period.
Blanckensee maintained his line that in spite of so many fixture changes, everything was normal. “To call it chaos is to stretch the truth too far. It is totally unfair and selective. As far as we are concerned, we have the situation under control. Let us wait for the CAF Champions League final - then we will be able to engage on what we are going to do.
“We have selected a number of dates that will be used as catch-up dates.”
Pirates, meanwhile, have confirmed their away match against Ahly will take place in Cairo, rather than El Gouna, where they hammered the Egyptian giants 3-0 in the group phase.
But Bucs will seek security assurances from both CAF and Egypt authorities amid continued political strife in Cairo.
Ahly shifted their home group phase fixtures to the Red Sea town of El Gouna, but it is thought the first hammering by Pirates - which was Ahly’s heaviest home defeat in the Champions League for years - persuaded them to move the final game to Cairo’s Military Academy Stadium, where Bafana Bafana drew with the Pharaohs in June 2011.
Ahly are set to arrive in the country today to begin preparations for Saturday’s first leg at Orlando Stadium (8.30pm).