Zifa Target Sept 14 for Training Resumption

ZIFA have revealed plans to push for the return of the Premier Soccer League next month as a back-up plan ahead of the resumption of international football in November.

The association’s president, Felton Kamambo, yesterday said the football mother body were today expected to start formal engagements with the Sports and Recreation Commission.

CAF announced the AFCON qualifiers were scheduled to resume between November 9-17.

And, this means the long awaited back-to-back clash between Zimbabwe and Algeria, is likely to take place under these difficult conditions.

The bulk of Zimbabwe’s players ply their trade in foreign leagues.

The association risk failing to raise a competitive team if the domestic league remains in limbo.

“I am sure you are aware that FIFA have said teams are not obliged to release players for the qualifiers and, so, we have to have a back-up plan for that,” said Kamambo.

“In case we fail to get most of our players, then the local-based players will have to step in.

“But, the problem is that they haven’t been playing football. It was not possible to start the domestic league this year because of the lockdown restrictions.

“Football was also classified among the high risk sports.

“Our wish is for the domestic teams to start training, by end of September, in anticipation of the new season.

“In fact, the date we have in mind is 14 September, so that the league begins mid-October but, again, it all depends on the advice from the stakeholders.”

The 2020 Castle Lager Premiership failed to start in March because of the lockdown measures.

Premier Soccer League chief executive, Kenny Ndebele, told our sister paper, The Sunday Mail, clubs were desperate to start training.

Ndebele acknowledged the introduction of the curfew had pegged them back, in terms of plans they had, for a September start to the season.

But the PSL chief urged the game’s leaders come out of their shells and put in place protocols to be tabled before Government for football’s safe return.

“We were hoping that the pandemic would be under control by August but, when the Government tightened the lockdown by introducing the curfew, we also had to slow down our push for a restart.

“We have been trying to understand and assess the situation on the ground.

“But, to be honest, the whole domestic football family went on sleep mode and there was no action,” Ndebele said.

ZIFA have set up a medical committee to help them draw up a strategy for the safe return of the game.

The authorities are being guided by the Government and health experts in their plans.

They are also taking notes from CAF’s 27-page document titled ‘CAF Guidelines to Resume Football in Africa.’

The document emphasizes on the health of the major stakeholders who include players, officials, fans, and other partners.

“There have been some engagements going on with the Sports Communication but we are looking to begin the official communication tomorrow (today),” said Kamambo.

“We are hoping that the medical committee would be through with their document to be presented to SRC.

“We were also hoping to conduct random tests on players, for a start, and use that as a gauge to see the impact the disease might have had on the players and officials.

“We are still going to be conducting the tests, while engagements with the SRC and Government continue.

“Resources have been set aside for that from the FIFA Covid-19 relief funds.

“We had to take this decision to push for the return of football after consultations with our various affiliates.

“Indications from the regions, when we did the consultations, were that we start next year but PSL indicated they wanted to start right away.

“And, like I indicated, we need to start preparing for the AFCON.

“We hope that the coach (Zdravko Logarusic) would have returned from his home in Croatia by the time the league starts.”

ZIFA are also hoping to make use of the FIFA international friendly dates to prepare for the Warriors’ AFCON assignments. FIFA have set the week of October 7-15 as the official dates for international matches.

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