The PSL says there was nothing sinister about scheduling Mamelodi Sundowns to play a league fixture four days before their Telkom Knockout (TKO) final clash against Maritzburg United.
The PSL’s acting chief executive, Mato Madlala, sought to set the record straight on Friday, saying that Sundowns had in fact asked to play their league game against Stellenbosch – four days before the Brazilians’ clash with United in the TKO final in Durban on Saturday.
However, this decision has not gone down well with some supporters, who have accused the league of “doing Sundowns a favour”.
Playing the midweek game means that Sundowns will have their star attacker Gastón Sirino back from suspension and available for the final at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
The Venezuelan will sit out his second game against Stellies after also missing the win over AmaZulu a fortnight ago. But Madlala dismissed the “conspiracy theories”, saying that, “if it were for those, we wouldn’t be playing football at all”.
But Sundowns insisting on playing a midweek fixture goes against the usual practice for clubs involved in cup finals.
The most recent example was that of MTN8 finalists Highlands Park and SuperSport United, whose league matches before the final were rescheduled.
Surprisingly, even Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane had wanted their game against Stellenbosch to be postponed.
“I think the league will move that game‚ otherwise you have a team that is going to play in a cup final involved in a league match midweek for the first time. It would be for the first time in history‚ so I like to be positive and I think the PSL will move it‚” said Mosimane.
However, Madlala insisted this was the case with Sundowns and Maritzburg, but Mosimane’s team opted to play their midweek game.
“The practice is the same with all the clubs and it was not different with this game,” said Madlala.
“We had postponed the Sundowns game as per our normal practice. However, they wrote to us to say they wanted to play the game because of their involvement in CAF competition.
“We then said they should speak to their opponents [Stellenbosch], and the two clubs agreed to play. So it was not our decision to fixture them. I must emphasise that it is not the first time this is happening. It was the same case previously with Sundowns and Black Leopards, where they swapped their home fixtures as well.”
Madlala said it was unfortunate that clubs were not speaking with one voice: “We only deal with official communication from clubs and not with what is being said in the corridors. In this case, we have a letter from Sundowns. We don’t want a situation where someone accuses us of double practice later, so we insist on written documents.”