‘Everyone has to start from scratch’ following Covid-19
JOHANNESBURG – Bidvest Wits midfielder Cole Alexander is adamant that it’s not only the Clever Boys who are being affected by the national lockdown, saying that all the teams in top-flight football will start from scratch should the season resume.
Leading up to the national lockdown, which started late in March in a bid to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic, Wits had an impressive run of form with four points out of a possible six, while they also progressed to the semi-finals of Nedbank Cup.
In their first postponed match, the Braamfontein, Joburg-based side were supposed to clash with Premiership leaders Kaizer Chiefs, who have a 10-point lead and have played a game extra, in a match that should have been played at FNB Stadium.
Three days later, the Clever Boys would have met fourth-placed Orlando Pirates, also away from home at Orlando Stadium.
Well, the permutations were simple: Wits needed maximum points from both away matches if they were to keep their title aspirations alive.
“Before the lockdown, I think we were doing well, bagging points and winning games. We had some momentum. But I think that the break hasn’t come at the right time. The lockdown, though, is not only affecting Wits but every team in the country,” Alexander said yesterday.
“We need to do the things that we can control. As professional players, we are all at home and have the time on our hands. And what we do with the time at home should allow us to compete when we come back, so that we are not far behind in our fitness.”
With President Cyril Ramaphosa expected to address the nation this evening - possibly on whether the lockdown will be extended beyond April 30 - the resumption of the domestic season is still up in the air.
The PSL executive committee, however, had since put a task team together that will work on finding strategies that will enable the league to be finished by June 30 - although they reiterated that they remain flexible.
Members of the football fraternity, though, are divided between calling the season null and void, resuming under strict measures, or crowning leaders Chiefs as champions.
“It’s a big, complex situation because some people are saying the league should be considered null and void and we should resume again next season. But it’s difficult for the teams in the NFD (National First Division) because they want to come up,” Alexander explained.
“This is not only affecting the teams at the top, who are chasing for the league title, but those that are at the bottom, who are fighting to avoid relegation.
“So it’s a complex situation. I think it’s up to the league to look for situations where we know that everyone - the players and fans - are risk free.”
While it is important for all their players to maintain their fitness level by sticking to the recommended training programmes, what has Alexander been doing differently, apart from working out, that he wouldn’t have had time to do during the season?
“I’ve recently completed my online studies. I am also trying to register for another course.”@Mihlalibaleka