HPTO-NMB-080321

PSL racing against time

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THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) is racing against time as there is now a huge prospect of no football taking place due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
Although the government has granted the top-flight league and Women’s Soccer the greenlight to resume after close to eight months of inactivity, events on the ground point to more delays.

Shortly after the government permission arrived, Zifa earlier this week released funds for PSL team’s and their women counterparts to be tested ahead of football’s resumption.

However, the PSL and the medical committee are still making consultations to come up with a comprehensive programme that will see at least 50 individuals each from the 18 top-flight teams getting tested.

Initially, the league had hoped that they would have completed the process by yesterday but it has proved to be an tough task which is now going to run into next week or further.

Once all teams have been tested, that is when group training sessions can only begin when the statuses of all the players, coaches, officials and support staff is known.

Due to the return to play protocols stipulated by both Fifa and Caf, teams would need at least six weeks of preseason training to get back to peak physical condition since players have been almost idle for close to eight months.

There is now at least eight weeks before the year ends including the festive season period which normally kicks off around December 22 when Zimbabwe celebrates Unity Day.

If teams get tested this coming week or by early next week, pre-season training would run until midDecember just before the festive season commences. Starting the mini-league which has been recommended by the government immediately thereafter will not be an ideal situation.

Another danger of kicking off the campaign during that period will come as the rain season normally begins during the same time. Local stadia have been condemned by both the local First Instance Board (Fib) and Caf due to their
dilapidated state.

Among the major concerns raised by both bodies is the poor drainage systems that will result in most pitches becoming water-logged and muddy even after light showers. With the government also insisting that teams have
to be placed in a bio-secure bubble environment for the league to go ahead, a funding challenge has also
arisen.

Zifa received a total of US$1,8 million from Fifa and Caf as Covid-19 Relief Aid which the association has used to pay for the testing while other resources were shared towards the rest of their affiliates.

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