The 2018 Premier Soccer League season kicks off on 10 March, a few weeks earlier than it did in 2017.
A few weeks ago, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) announced an unprecedented interclub season changeover which also directed members to align their national competitions to it. Traditionally, the local season concludes in November, just before the rainy season.
This year’s interclub season will begin in November, registration of players to compete in the tournament closes in October, meaning that a local champion should have been crowned by then.
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) Spokesperson, Kudzai Bare, said the new order will definitely affect the local league in the long run, but no changes have been effected as yet as the Zimbabwe Football Association had not yet communicated anything to them.
“The new interclub competitions season will definitely necessitate some changes in the PSL programme, however this is something that will be looked into by our board before we make an official comment,” said Bare.
This then means Zimbabwean football administrators are yet to deliberate on the way forward with regards to the alignment alluded to by CAF in its letter to member associations.
By the time interclub competitions commence, local players would have just endured a long and strenuous season that now has an extra four games since the increase of topflight teams from 16 to 18 in 2017.
Both in South Africa and Zimbabwe, teams participating in inter club competitions have struggled in local competitions, Caps United a case in point in 2017.
During the transition period, Zimbabwean champions, whoever they maybe, will obviously struggle with fatigue after completing a 34-game season.
The PSL said that this season will run as had been scheduled.
“This 2018 season will run as scheduled as we await communication from ZIFA,” added Bare.
The decision that has to be made but is yet to be made is whether the local season has to be altered to match the favoured European style one as CAF has declared.
With the continent’s premier tournament (Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON) having been successfully moved from January/February to June/July for the 2019 edition, powerful European club owners have clearly won the war that raged every AFCON year in January.
The argument they put forward was that they were hampering their chances in their local and regional competitions by releasing their star players to compete at Africa’s premier soccer showpiece in January. They argued that it should be moved to June/July during their off-season and CAF conceded.
Cameroon sought the intervention of FIFA when Joel Matip opted to stay with his club instead of honouring an AFCON call up in 2017.
The current move by CAF to move all member association competitions to run inline with European leagues and competitions might heavily affect the development of the game in other parts of the continent which experience heavy rainfall during the period December to February.
Will the weather and the drainage systems (if any) of stadia in most African football fields sustain constant use in the rain season?
Will football fans go to watch their teams in stadia which doesn’t have protection from the rain?
Will African football in developing nations adapt to the new system without going under?
Zimbabwe Football Association Competitions and Communications manager, Xolisani Gwesela said that they will adhere to CAF regulations.
“We will abide to CAF dictates, we have no objections to the new regulations.
“However, we will announce to our stakeholders how we will operationalise,” said Gwesela.
Altering African competitions to suit needs of European leagues benefits Europe more than mother Africa, and though it might have its pros, a lot needs to be invested into the most beautiful game in Africa if this experiment is to be a success.
In Southern Africa, only South Africa’s season runs inline with the European one, mainly due to the fact that the 2010 World Cup hosts have an infrastructural legacy of the global event.