Wayne Arendse of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Bidvest Wits player Rowan Huma during a league meeting between the two sides in January. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Wayne Arendse of Mamelodi Sundowns challenged by Bidvest Wits player Rowan Huma during a league meeting between the two sides in January. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

No 12th man ... but hot PSL action bound to hot up our screens

By Mihlali Baleka Time of article published Jul 31, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - The 12th man will not be chanting at the top of their voices at stadiums due to the “new normal” but as they back their beloved Premier Soccer League (PSL) teams from the comfort of their sofas, they will be pleased that justice has been served.

For at least five months the local game came to an abrupt pause -on television screens and in stadiums - for the sport fraternity, due to Covid-19.

But to the delight of all the stakeholders – supporters, broadcasters and sponsors - the Board of Governors (BoG) came to a unanimous decision for football to resume next Saturday.

That was a good verdict but it took some doing, especially after the South African Football Association (Safa) had dismissed the initial request from the PSL to resume football on July 18 as they insisted on the first week of August.

But instead of sulking or moaning and declaring the season null and void, the PSL’s BoG came to a decision to resume and conclude the season. They were probably guided by the fact that there is still so much at stake in the Absa Premiership and GladAfrica Championship.

The PSL deserve praise for following in the footsteps of established European leagues – such as the English Premier League who’ve successfully concluded their league behind closed doors in recent weeks

Kaizer Chiefs lead the Premiership standings with 48 points, four ahead of champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who have a game in hand. At the foot of the table, Baroka, who are 13th on the standings, only trail basement dwellers Black Leopards with three points.

In the second-tier division, Ajax Cape Town may be at the summit but they can’t be putting the champagne on ice just yet to celebrate promotion, considering second-placed Swallows trail by seven points – while there’s still six games to be played.

Down at the bottom, Royal Eagles and Jomo Cosmos may occupy the drop zone – 16th and 15th respectively – but realistically a team that is still sixth on the standings can still be relegated to the third-tier division - should they lose their remaining matches.

Sure, the safety and health protocols will have to be followed to the tee. However, there'll be a huge sense of relief to clubs that will be looking for silverware via the Nedbank Cup.

The South African premier club knockout competition semi-finals will get “project restart” underway on August 8 as Mamelodi Sundowns will tussle with Bidvest Wits, while Baroka FC will square off with Bloemfontein Celtic.

With the league season set to restart on August 11, most of the clubs will be making their way to their biological safe environment - that will be hosted in Gauteng - sometime next week.

The neutral draw of the home venues produced some intriguing match-ups on Wednesday, especially with Chiefs set to host Sundowns at Orlando Stadium.

The “new normal” will be costly for some of the teams, especially those that are campaigning in the GladAfrica Championship. But supporters all around the country will have a smile on their faces knowing that their teams have been given the chance to fight for glory or survival until the last whistle. And we need all the smiles we can get in this time of Covid-19.

Absa Premiership fixtures

Tuesday, August 11: Mamelodi Sundowns v Orlando Pirates - Dobsonville Stadium 6pm

Wednesday, August 12: Kaizer Chiefs v Bidvest Wits - Orlando Stadium 6pm

Friday, August 14: Chippa United v Cape Town City FC - Orlando Stadium 3.30pm; Highlands Park v Mamelodi Sundowns - Dobsonville Stadium 6pm

Saturday, August 15: AmaZulu FC v Baroka FC - Lucas Moripe Stadium 1.30pm; Stellenbosch v Golden Arrows - Tuks Stadium 1.30pm; Polokwane City v Kaizer Chiefs - Loftus Versfeld 3.30pm; Orlando Pirates v Bidvest Wits - Ellis Park 6pm

Sunday, August 16: Black Leopards v Maritzburg United - FNB Stadium 3.30pm; SuperSport United v Bloemfontein Celtic - Bidvest Stadium 6pm

Monday, August 17: Cape Town City v Mamelodi Sundowns - Loftus Versfeld 6pm

Tuesday, August 18: Bidvest Wits v Golden Arrows - FNB Stadium 3.30pm; Chippa United v Highlands Park - Orlando Stadium 3.30pm; Orlando Pirates v Baroka FC - Emirates Airline Park 6pm

Wednesday, August 19: SuperSport United v Polokwane City - Bidvest Stadium 3.30pm; Bloemfontein Celtic v Kaizer Chiefs - Tuks Stadium 6pm

Thursday, August 20: Stellenbosch v Cape Town City FC - Tuks Stadium 6pm

Friday, August 21: Golden Arrows v Black Leopards - Ellis Park 1.30pm; Bidvest Wits v AmaZulu FC - FNB Stadium 3.30pm; Maritzburg United v Mamelodi Sundowns - Lucas Moripe Stadium 6pm

Saturday, August 22: Polokwane City v Highlands Park - Loftus Versfeld 3.30pm; Baroka FC v Chippa United - Bidvest Stadium 6pm

Sunday, August 23: Cape Town City v Orlando Pirates - Loftus Versfeld 3.30pm; Kaizer Chiefs v Stellenbosch FC - Orlando Stadium 6pm

Monday, August 24: Maritzburg United v Bidvest Wits - Tuks Stadium 3.30pm; AmaZulu FC v Bloemfontein Celtic - Lucas Moripe Stadium 3.30pm; Mamelodi Sundowns v Golden Arrows - Dobsonville Stadium 6pm

Tuesday, August 25: Black Leopards v SuperSport United - FNB Stadium 6pm

League season to conclude on Saturday, September 5.

@Mihlalibaleka

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