The debate revolves around the PSL’s refusal to move fixtures to give the Brazilians more breathing space to prepare for their semifinal against Zambia’s Zesco United.
The Brazilians had to play a league game at Martizburg United just a few days before the first leg of their semi against Zesco in Ndola on Saturday, and this week they will play their MTN8 semifinal, second leg against Chippa United on Wednesday, before hosting Zesco in their Champions League return leg on Saturday.
Most detractors of the PSL point to the leeway Orlando Pirates were given in their bids to win the 2013 Caf Champions League and the 2015 Caf Confederation Cup, and they have a point. Pirates had games postponed and it has not gone unnoticed that the chairman of the PSL, Irvin Khoza, just happens to be the chairman of Pirates too.
But I also want to play Devil’s Advocate a little here and say that I hope that if Sundowns are knocked out of the Champions League by Zesco, short thrift is given to fixture congestion as an excuse.
After all, teams all over the world play Saturday, Wednesday, Saturday, Wednesday, all the time and you rarely, if ever hear anyone complaining about unfair treatment. If anything, the treatment given to Orlando Pirates was excessively lax and the treatment given to Sundowns is just following normal procedure, as per football all over the planet.
Sundowns are, in a way, victims of their own success, as reaching the MTN8 semifinals has planted two games in their way that they would otherwise not have had to play. You just cannot have it both ways and be a trophy-chasing club with no fixture issues.
I do think Sundowns have every chance to reach both the MTN8 final and the Champions League final this week, given the playing resources at coach Pitso Mosimane’s disposal and given his abilities as a coach. Sundowns have to be commended for making the most of their Champions League second chance, and I am backing them to pick up the 1-0 win they need on Saturday evening.
We take a look at Sundowns’ busy week on Page 8.
Kaizer Chiefs would certainly take a 1-0 win at this point, in fact they would probably take any sort of win right now. Tomorrow they take on Highlands Park and Collins Mbesuma, whose appetite for goals seems to show no sign of dying down, as evidenced in his words opposite.
Elsewhere in this week’s Phakaaathi we interview Tyroane Sandows, the unluckiest man of South Africa’s Rio Olympic mission – the Brazil-based attacking midfielder couldn’t get a single second on the pitch under Owen da Gama, but he has no bitter feelings about it.
We also wrap up the action in the National First Division, where AmaZulu launched a remarkable comeback at Mthatha Bucks. And we look ahead to all the other Absa Premiership action this week, as the season again gets into full swing.
Finally, due to unforeseen circumstances, we are unable to announce any Mgosi airtime winners in today’s edition. But the competition is still running and look out for the keyword in the advert on Page 10 to see how to enter this week!