CAF programme force ‘Downs to postpone fixtures
The ABSA Premiership has been thrown into a tailspin by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) who released their Pan-African club competition fixtures on Friday and no doubt the National Soccer League will be forced to re-adjust their own programme.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane commented in the past that a team’s true character gets tested when they have to juggle Pan African club competitions, spending unending hours in the air, sleeping at foreign airports while in transit and then without resting, honor domestic assignments.
Hopefully this will not be used as an excuse by local clubs that are so totally against participation in Pan-African club competitions that they would deliberately bomb out in the early stages of the competition just in order to concentrate all their energies in domestic duties.
The first leg fixtures of the CAF competitions indicate that preliminary programme gets underway during the weekend of November 27/28 and the second leg matches take place during the first week of December.
Mamelodi Sundowns have been drawn against Leones Vegatarians from Mauritania while Orlando Pirates have been paired with Light Stars, a team made up of bakers, fishermen and chefs from the Indian Ocean Island of Seychelles both in the African Champions League.
Kaizer Chiefs will tackle Zimamoto from the spicy island of Zanzibar in the East of Africa while Nedbank Cup champions Free State Stars have drawn Mukura Victory Sports from Rwanda, both participate in the CAF Confederation Cup also during the same weekend of November 27/28.
However, the continental obligations will affect the ABSA Premiership championship, particularly the match featuring Black Leopards who would be hosting Mamelodi Sundowns at their intimidating Thohoyandou Stadium on December 28.
Even the anticipated Tshwane derby between Sundowns and SuperSport United scheduled for the Lucas Moripe Stadium on December 1 is also certainly going to be affected, as well as the Pirates clash against Maritzburg United at Orlando Stadium in Soweto also on December 1.
It does not end there but the Kaizer Chiefs tie against Lamontville Golden Arrows penciled for the Princess Magogo Stadium in Kwa-Mashu on December 1 as well as the Sundowns/Maritzburg United tie scheduled for the Loftus Stadium on December 4 will also be affected.
Pitso Mosimane was right, taking part in Pan-African club competitions is not for the faint hearted. It is a hard and gruelling experience that tests your resolve and needs a team with nerves of steel but the rewards are endless because if you manage to conquer the continent, you add a shining gold star on your badge and you find yourself in a space where you could be playing against Real Madrid, Manchester United, Barcelona or Juventus in the FIFA World Club championship.