PSL clubs want competitions

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AFTER almost eight months of inactivity, Premier Soccer League (PSL) clubs have welcomed the commencement of training sessions but were quick to emphasise the need to have dates on when competitions will resume for
planning purposes.
Most clubs are now in the second week of group training after submitting their coronavirus (Covid-19) testing results to the PSL.

By end of last week, Harare giants CAPS United, Triangle and Yadah, were the only premiership clubs yet to commence training sessions as they had not submitted their results.

The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) last month availed funds for the testing of players and club officials but while most clubs have since undergone the testing exercise, it’s not clear yet on when competitions will resume.
And while most clubs are happy to be back on the field, they feel relevant authorities should also move to give the correct position on competitions as it will help them prepare.

Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Rodwell Dhlakama said they are just training blindly.

“Of course, it feels good to be back on the field but the thing is we are just training. We don’t know when we will start playing competitive games,” Dhlakama told the Daily News on Sunday.

“So, what we are doing is that since some players will be travelling for the Chan competition next year, it also gives us an opportunity to help them stay in shape.

Chan is a tournament of national interests and we are obliged to help in every way possible.

“We will adjust once we are aware of the programme regarding competitions. But otherwise for now, we are enjoying being back at work after a long layoff.”

Black Rhinos secretary-general Edward Mutukwa is equally happy with the return to training but concerned on when competitions will start.

“It’s refreshing to see the people’s game coming back. It’s really good for the clubs, players and football administrators. I’m sure activity will also activate sponsors and the benefit will be a shared dividend,” he
said. “We hope the mini-tournament will also materialise soon because as things stand, we are not sure of anything, if there is any.”

Chicken Inn coach Joey Antipas feels the huge amounts needed for the bio-bubble is likely to make it impossible to allow competitions. “It’s good to be back in training. It’s been quite a while without football and the fact that we are now training is a good sign that the game could be back soon,” Antipas said.

“The only problem is that we are doing another pre-season. Also, we don’t know what will take place in as far as competitions are concerned. It seems we will train for longer periods. The space we are in right now is difficult, especially for planning purposes.

“The other thing is that it’s difficult to picture football coming back when one factors in the costs that are involved in having the bio-bubble. Clubs are struggling and there is a lot of money involved, so it’s hard really.”

CAPS United coach Darlington Dodo is excited by the return to training. “We are happy we are starting training
once again after quite a long time of inactivity. For us, this is what we live for and it feels good to be back to what we know best,” Dodo said.

“Of course, we are not sure about competitions but for now, we will train until we are told of the next move. The important thing for now is that we are training,”

Initially, the 2020 domestic football season should have commenced in March but it had to be shelved following the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak.

At the same time, the government declared a nationwide lockdown with sporting activities and public gatherings of more than 50 people banned.

After almost eight months of inactivity, the government last month gave Zifa and the PSL the greenlight to resume activities in a staggered manner.

The authorities also want the PSL and Women’s Super League to be staged under a bio-secure bubble with the matches taking a mini-league format.

The model would see all the PSL players, coaches and team, league and media personnel all packed into a “bio-secure” place without contact from the outside world.

Estimates have put the figure needed by Zifa to orchestrate such a staging at US$1 million which the association has already said they cannot afford.

At the height of the pandemic, the association received at least US$1,8 million from both Fifa and Caf in Covid-19 Relief Aid but the funds’ distribution cascaded down to the lower leagues and Area Zones.

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