PSL stars fear 2020  season will not start. . . as local coronavirus cases continue rising  

Godknows Matarutse

MORE and more players now believe the 2020 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season is unlikely to go ahead due to the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).
As of yesterday, 81 people had lost their lives from the confirmed 4 221 cases since the country recorded its first case five months ago.
The 2020 campaign should have commenced in March but those plans had to be put on hold after the government declared a nationwide lockdown and banned all public gatherings of more than 50 people.
Since then, the restrictions have remained in place with the authorities also introducing a curfew which prohibits any movement for nonessential workers between 6pm and 6am.
The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) and the PSL are currently working together with the Medical Committee on a plan for the 2020 season to finally kick off next month.
Among some of the suggestions being proposed is for the frequent testing of all players, coaches, officials and support staff before and after training and matches.
Health protocols and social distancing will have to be observed at all times with clubs expected to appoint Covid-19 officers.
Matches will have to be played behind closed doors with no fans permitted to attend.
However, in recent weeks the country has experienced a spike in cases as health authorities seem to be failing to cope with the pandemic.
“It’s tricky now and I’m not sure if football will be played this year. It appears the situation is getting worse, the numbers are increasing almost every day,” Dynamos captain Partson Jaure told the Daily News yesterday.
“We will stand guided though by the authorities. As for me, I will not be surprised if the season does not take off this year.”
Jaure’s sentiments were echoed by CAPS United winger Phineas Bamusi, who admitted that hopes of playing football this year are looking slim with each passing day.
“Cases are increasing and it’s worrisome. Hope is fading every day. Local transmissions are spiking and it’s not really clear if football will be played this season,” Bamusi told the Daily News.
“At the moment, I’m doing light training just to stay in shape ….”
Dynamos full back Emmanuel Jalai is also concerned with the alarming rate of positive cases.
“It’s not looking good judging by the local transmissions that are being recorded,” Jalai said.
“I’m not sure if football can be played under such circumstances.”
The players’ concerns also come at a time when the PSL boss Kenny Ndebele and clubs have raised a red flag over the proposed September start.
“There is no need for us to rush because the pandemic is with us. We need to be patient while observing set health guidelines,” Ndebele told the Daily News earlier this week.
“Here, most players wait for the next Zupco to and from training whereas in Europe players choose which car to use so it’s a different scenario.
“We need to be extremely careful.”
Harare City chairperson Alois Masepe said it would be suicidal to start the league next month under these circumstances.
“It’s tricky really. The challenges far outweigh the benefits of starting the league,” Masepe told the Daily News.
“The Covid-19 prevention costs are too high…. Again, I don’t think Zifa have the money to fund the Covid-19 expenses for all the leagues, it’s a tall order.”
The South Africa Absa Premier League is set to resume this weekend as they hope to finish their 2019-20 season which was stopped in March.
In Zambia, they resumed their 2019-20 campaign last month but the football authorities were forced to halt the season prematurely after facing challenges in testing and making sure clubs adhere to health protocols.

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