PSL / 6 September 2016, 3:47pm
The Premier Soccer League has rejected a requested from Mamelodi Sundowns to postpone the club’s opening Absa Premiership fixture away to Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium next Wednesday, and it’s chief executive – Mato Madlala – says there is a valid reason for snubbing the Brazilians.
The appeal from Sundowns comes in the wake of Pitso Mosimane’s men having to play a CAF Champions League semi-final clash against ZEZCO United in Ndola, Zambia three days later and they are desperate to be allowed more time to prepare for that crucial game, which will be played over two legs. The return fixture is scheduled for September 24 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium.
The Premier Soccer League has rejected a requested from Mamelodi Sundowns to postpone the club’s opening Absa Premiership fixture away to Maritzburg United. Photo by: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix. Credit: BackpagePix
“This is not about Sundowns because the league has it’s own way of doing things and planning fixtures. If there are no days open, then there simply aren’t any,” said Madlala late on Tuesday. “And this is not the first time a South African club has to play back-to-back matches in the domestic league and on the continent. Sundowns can actually consider themselves lucky to be playing in Zambia. I remember Black Leopards (who narrowly missed out on making the group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup in 2012) returning from one of their trips elsewhere in Africa and having to quickly catch a flight to go play Golden Arrows. I have asked my (PSL) media team to pull out all the statistics to show that Sundowns are not an exception.”
Mosimane, who is currently readying his team for another semi-final match in the MTN8, which is to be played in Port Elizabeth on Sunday against Chippa United, has been trying to garner public sympathy in his post-match interviews recently for the PSL to ease the fixture congestion. The club also asked that Bafana Bafana coach Shakes Mashaba withdraw five of its players who were selected for last Friday’s dead rubber 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Mauritania in Nelspruit and tonight’s Nelson Mandela Challenge friendly against Egypt at Orlando Stadium.
“You also might not be aware of this, but SuperSport United have a home game (against Free State Stars) at the same venue Sundowns are supposed to play ZESCO in the return leg on September 24 as per CAF instructions. How are we going to handle that now? It is up to the two teams to speak to each other before the league gets involved,” Madlala explained.
The league has in the past postponed games involving Orlando Pirates when the Buccaneers were campaigning in the 2013 CAF Champions League and the Confederation Cup two years later, reaching the final in both competitions. But the difference here is that Pirates were playing most of their matches in North Africa and could only reach their destination by flying via Europe, while Sundowns will travel to Ndola next weekend. A flight from Johannesburg to Ndola is about two hours, almost similar to travelling to Cape Town for a league match. But Sundowns are still aggrieved that they have to play Chippa on Sunday, then Maritzburg three days later before facing ZEZCO in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final on September 17. The Brazilians are also playing catch-up in the Premier League having been away in Nigeria on CAF duty when the domestic season kicked off three weeks ago.