Downs’ CAF run presents another headache for PSL

Hlompho Kekana and his team are hoping to solve their clash of fixtures. The Downs captain is seen here with Mohammed Nahiri of Wydad Athletic. Picture: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images
Hlompho Kekana and his team are hoping to solve their clash of fixtures. The Downs captain is seen here with Mohammed Nahiri of Wydad Athletic. Picture: Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns were on Friday due to submit a comprehensive proposal to the PSL to have the club’s remaining Absa Premiership fixtures rejigged.

This is in the wake of The Brazilians’ looming domestic and continental fixture clash as a consequence of coach Pitso Mosimane’s team reaching the CAF Champions League quarterfinals.

Sundowns will face Al Ahly of Egypt over two legs, the dates of which fall on the same weekend as the South African champions’ upcoming PSL fixtures against SuperSport United and Baroka FC next month.

As a result, Sundowns have already agreed in principle with their PSL opponents to have their fixtures brought forward, according to the club’s acting general manager Yogesh Singh.

“We have been talking to SuperSport directly and they are happy to play us on Monday April 1 [the game is pinned for Sunday April 7]. We are moving towards finding a solution with Baroka to have our game played next Thursday,” Singh told City Press.

Sundowns will also have all their players back from national team duty in this weekend’s Afcon qualifiers. The Baroka game is originally scheduled for April 14 – when Sundowns will be away in Egypt for the second leg.

“We are putting together a proposal to the PSL to look into our remaining seven league matches. Hopefully they will be supportive and approve it. We are trying to find a balance while taking into account that a lot of our matches are in the way of CAF and the Nedbank Cup schedules.”

Sundowns will play no part in the Nedbank Cup, which resumes this week, as they were eliminated in the first round. They hope to use this window period to play their outstanding matches.

Singh said Sundowns have had discussions with the PSL over the possible rescheduling of fixtures as soon their qualification for the quarterfinals of the champions league was confirmed. This took place after their penultimate group stage match game against Lobi Stars of Nigeria three weeks ago. Sundowns won 3-0 in Atteridgeville to earn a ticket to the last eight.

The quarterfinal draw, which also decided the fixed dates for the two-legged fixtures, in Egypt on Wednesday, confirmed the PSL’s worst fears.

The league will have no choice but to reshuffle its programme that has already experienced plenty of changes of late, including the move that was necessitated by the upcoming general elections on May 8.

Earlier this month, the PSL acceded to Safa’s request to rearrange a block of fixtures to allow Bafana Bafana enough time to prepare for their Afcon qualifier against Libya tonight.

The PSL must prepare for further chaos should Sundowns advance to the semifinals.

In fact, Singh also told City Press that Sundowns’ proposal looks beyond the quarterfinal stage as their next batch of league fixtures – against Orlando Pirates and Golden Arrows – will clash with the CAF semifinal dates, if they progress.

Should Sundowns reach the last four of the premier continental club competition, they will meet the winner of the match between Wydad Athletic of Morocco and Guinea champions Horoya AC.

Meanwhile, Sundowns await CAF’s decision on the confirmation of their date against eight-time African champions Al Ahly. Singh said they preferred to play on a Friday, but the decision lay with CAF, who would make a call after consultation with the broadcaster, among other stakeholders.

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