Johannesburg - For an institution that did so well to deal with the initial waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) is seemingly lax in dealing with the fourth wave that is upon us.d
Local professional football’s governing body was roundly praised for implementing the bio-bubble that saw all their 32 DStv Premiership and GladAfrica Championship clubs being booked into hotels and playing at a few select venues to avoid infections. The result was that a season that could easily have gone haywire due to the pandemic was completed without major Covid cases.
And when many a sport returned to normalcy and even allowed crowds back to venues, the PSL went the cautious route and continued without fans at venues, except those few for the MTN8 final.
Strange then that when this fourth wave has hit so close to home with Kaizer Chiefs suffering so many positive cases that they have had to ask for a postponement of their matches, the league refused.
At the time of writing, there had been no official word from the PSL about their reasons for insisting Amakhosi honour Saturday’s league clash with Cape Town City.
Chiefs though, having reported themselves to have had no less than 31 positive cases that forced them to close their base in Naturena and find themselves with not enough players to honour a fixture, opted to forfeit that clash.
Granted the PSL probably had good reason to insist Chiefs play their match. After all the request was too short notice. Yet given the rapid wave of positive Covid cases, particularly in Gauteng, one would expect that the league would move to ensure that the season is not badly affected.
Sure, it is incumbent on the clubs and players in particular as professionals to ensure that they stay safe from contracting the virus.
For instance clubs, particularly the Gauteng ones, should be going into camps for this month, especially to try and minimise their players having contact with others. After all, we know how irresponsible players can be given their love for parties.
And as the custodian of the professional game, one would have assumed the PSL is aware of such and that they would have taken precautions by instructing their clubs to take responsibility for their staff’s well being.
A suggestion by some that the fixtures be postponed until the new year just won’t fly with the league who have ‘responsibilities to their sponsors and broadcasters’. While going into another bio-bubble could do the trick, it is a costly exercise that the PSL would rather not do..
Because most, if not all, of our clubs don’t have proper ‘homes’ with accommodation, they are likely to see going into a month-long camp as too much of an expense and would rather be requesting the league for postponement when hit with many positive tests.
For a country that purports itself as a top footballing nation, it is a shame that our clubs don’t own proper home bases.
Sure, the likes of Chiefs themselves, Mamelodi Sundowns and Baroka have their own administrative offices and training grounds. But none of them are yet to build proper rooms to house their players overnight as camps prior to matches and they continue to enrich hotel chains, unless they have a partnership with them.
Here’s to hoping that the Covid situation that has forced Chiefs to forfeit their league match against Cape Town City opens our clubs’ eyes to the importance of having their own proper home.
With the fourth wave spreading as fast as it is, one also hopes that the PSL moves to ensure that the remainder of the year’s fixtures are not affected. For who is to say another club will not suffer the same fate that befell Amakhosi?
Fifa break SA hearts
Speaking of fate, I was not particularly surprised that world football governing body Fifa rejected Safa’s protest and call to have Bafana Bafana’s World Cup qualifying match against Ghana replayed.
While I did concur with the assertion by former referee Ace Ncobo that there appeared to have been some kind of manipulation of that 1-0 defeat we suffered to the Black Stars, I just didn’t see why Fifa would agree to a replay. As I mentioned in this column a few weeks ago, doing that would have been tantamount to Fifa saying it is open season to teams challenging their defeats. One of the things that makes football the Beautiful Game is that the referee’s decision is final.
Granted the match officials have to be fair and not ‘rob’ others like they did Bafana at the Cape Coast. But challenging a result of a match is something pretty foreign in football and it was always highly unlikely that Fifa were going to see things our way.
Safa can try and take the case further given their firm belief that there was simply no Fair Play in that match. But it is likely to all be futile and as I said in the previous column, we need to stop leaving things to chance.
Swallows FC coach Brandon Truter and victories were fast becoming like the parallel lines of a railway – destined never to meet.
Sure he helped them stay up in the Premiership via a record drawn number of matches. The reality though is that a team that draws matches is literally losing two points, and in the competitive Premiership, that is always a recipe for disaster.
Truter continued drawing matches and unlike last season when that earned Swallows a top eight finish, this time it saw the club propping up the table.
The coach was not solely to blame for Swallows’ poor showing, with the players often looking like they are going through the motions and the sooner the management – not just of Swallows but of the other PSL clubs too – start making the players responsible for poor performances the less turnaround of coaches we will have.
Swallows have entrusted Dylan Kerr with turning their fortunes around and with good reason too given the splendid rescue mission jobs he completed at Limpopo clubs Black Leopards, Baroka FC and TTM (now Marumo Gallants).
But will he save Swallows? He better!