The Sunday News
Tadious Manyepo, Harare Bureau
THE 2024 Premier Soccer League (PSL) season is scheduled to kick off on 2-3 March with the PSL awaiting the confirmation of the Eastern Region Division One champions to publish fixtures.
PSL have settled for an early commencement of the term and ideally should have published the fixtures already but they have had to wait for the Zifa Appeals Committee who are expected to hear and hand down a ruling on who comes up from the chaotic Eastern Region.
Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services side Tenax won the race to the league title after walloping Manica Diamonds Under-19 on the final day of the season. That result, coupled with Bikita Minerals’ 1-1 draw at Grayham meant Tenax would pick the sole ticket to the Premiership after piping the Masvingo team to pole position by a single point in a typical smash-and-grab style.
However, Bikita Minerals lodged an appeal with the Eastern Region, accusing Grayham of having fielded an ineligible player. The Eastern Region, instead of just punishing Grayham (if they were indeed guilty) handed three points to Bikita Minerals who effectively sealed promotion as a result. But Tenax made an appeal to the Zifa Appeals Committee who will now hear the issue next Friday. And that matter has delayed the publication of fixtures by PSL.
Speaking on the sidelines of a pre-season stakeholders consultative workshop in Harare yesterday, PSL chief executive officer Kenny Ndebele said they were waiting for the name of the club promoted from the Eastern Region to confirm the fixtures.
“We haven’t deferred the season but we are just waiting for the Eastern Region Division One champion to be confirmed so that we have a full complement of the (18) teams. The season will begin soon after otherwise we are almost ready for kick-off.”
The term gets underway on 24 February when Dynamos play Ngezi Platinum Stars in the Castle Challenge Cup at Baobab. And a week later, league action is expected to explode into life.
At the moment, the Shariff Mussa-chaired First Instance Board will be starting their inspection work, examining stadiums and the teams for compliance.
“So we are starting with the Castle Challenge Cup. We are working on the logistics right now but I do confirm that the match will be played on 24 February. The FIB will not look only at the stadium issues, they will also look at the other facets like club structures, their statutes and financial positions so it’s a broad process. We are confident that we will have enough stadia to host PSL matches this season.”
The veteran football brains hailed the feedback that PSL got at the consultative meeting and promised to put together more workshops as they would help shape up the game.
“The consultative workshop is very important. We learnt a lot as we got a lot of feedback. There is a lot that we need to work on. We would like to thank the stakeholders for coming to this forum where we exchanged information. We really learnt a lot. Going forward, I think we need to budget more on such engagements.”
The forum saw different stakeholders including medical, security, stadium owners, the media, players’ representatives and match officials engaging in constructive discussions aimed at enhancing the appeal of the game.
Renowned sports medicine expert Nicholas Munyonga said teams should have qualified doctors and physiotherapists.
“Ideally every team should have at least seven medical people on their bench. But at the very minimum, they should have a doctor and a physiotherapist. That is a requirement. This is for the safety and well-being of the players. The stadium should be sanitised and also vendors screened.”
Different stakeholders spoke of the need to create a conducive environment for the good of the game including training marshals and stewards basic first aid for the benefit of fans.