THE decision by Zifa to ditch the plans for a mini-league tournament, that would have preceded the 2021 Premier Soccer League season has stunned clubs that had scaled up preparations in anticipation of an early return to football.
BY FORTUNE MBELE
Last week Zifa wrote to its affiliates informing them of the proposal to kick-start the season and made no mention of the tournament that had been proposed by the government.
Clubs from all Zifa affiliates can start training on January 4.
Most PSL clubs have been training for the last four weeks and with the latest pronouncement, some have said that they would have to change the programme and reduce intensity.
They had been preparing for a government proposed two-weeks mini-league tournament under a bio-bubble concept, which Zifa has called off saying it was elitist and expensive.
One club official, who chose to be anonymous, said the status quo had further thrown football into disarray.
“Surely we don’t know what we are supposed to do now. The season was suspended eight months ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which was understandable. But then the ban is lifted and we are told we can start training and we have been preparing for the two-week tournament and then now we are told that the tournament has been cancelled, meaning another four months without football. This is confusing and had made it difficult to plan,” he said.
Highlanders’ assistant coach Bekithemba “Super” Ndlovu said the technical team had not been officially briefed by the club of the tournament’s cancellation.
He, however, believes it was important for the players to continue training to stay in shape.
The Highlanders’ assistant coach says the issue of training under such circumstances have to be decided by management.
“We have to meet as the technical team and discuss the issue; maybe to take a break and resume in January, but these are issues that we also have to discuss with management because as coaches the club has not officially communicated anything to us,” Ndlovu said.
He added: “But it is also important that since we had stopped training for eight months and now we have been training for four weeks, we just continue but reduce intensity and continue into pre-season so that the boys remain in shape because so far they have been responding well since we resumed training.”
Chicken Inn head coach Joey Antipas has other ideas and says it was pointless to continue training if the two-week competition has been cancelled.
“We are abandoning training. It’s senseless to continue training if the tournament has been called off. We are just going to close shop and get into serious business in January,” Antipas said.
In its correspondence to its affiliates Zifa said clubs should be prepared for the start of the leagues in March and brace for tougher times as games may be played in empty stadiums.
All players and stakeholders will be tested for COVID-19 and Zifa has committed to pay for the testing.
“The proposed date for the commencement of the league programmes is first week of March in 2021. Please bear in mind that the resumption of football activities is preceded by mandatory COVID-19 testing of all stakeholders, with only COVID-19-free individuals being allowed to participate while those found positive should self-isolate,” Zifa said.
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