Augustine Hwata Sports Reporter
DOMESTIC football was thrown into further turmoil following the cancellation of Zimbabwe’s African Nations Championships qualifier against Zambia with the Premier Soccer League yesterday being forced to call off the BancABC semi-final matches indefinitely. The PSL had arranged a double header of the BancABC semi-finals at Barbourfields this weekend with the game pitting FC Platinum against Monomotapa set to precede the showdown between league champions Dynamos and Shabanie Mine.
Both matches were also set to be broadcast live on SuperSport 9 and PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele had spent the better part of last week running around to put in place all the logistics necessary for the successful staging of the knock-out tournament.
The BancABC Cup, back on the local football radar after a year’s hiatus, broke new ground when the tournament became the biggest in terms of the winners’ cheque when it was revived in May.
Winners of this year’s BancABC will walk away with a whooping US$120 000 but the tournament has been put on ice, at least for now and Ndebele said they will have to find alternative dates after the games were shifted from this weekend.
Zimbabwe had been scheduled to host Zambia at Rufaro in the CHAN second round, first leg tie at Rufaro on Sunday but that game was aborted before even a ball was kicked following the no show of Cameroon referee Aurelien Juenkou and his assistants Fuanta Joseph Lambi, Elvis Noupue and Christopher Nde.
Zifa, the Football Association of Zambia and Match Commissioner Ian McLeod of South Africa then resolved that the game be rescheduled for Rufaro this weekend and it is that latest move that has thrown the PSL programme into disarray as the top-flight body would have to give in to international assignments once again.
With the reverse fixture slotted in for Ndola on August 24, the PSL had sought to use the weekend in between (August 18) to stage the BancABC semi-finals.
“It’s a tricky situation, but realistically the BancABC matches are now off from this weekend. The sponsor had done everything from booking the hotels and sorting out the travelling arrangements for the teams in Bulawayo,” said Ndebele.
Ndebele said they had also shot down the possibility of having the BancABC matches this Sunday when the Warriors would be playing Zambia in the rescheduled CHAN tie. “The other option would have been to go ahead and host the BancABC Sup8r matches but again its difficult because of one of the clubs involved Dynamos are providing four players and the coach to the national team on the same day,” said Ndebele.
The Premiership champions have the quartet of Augustine Mbara, Partson Jaure, Devon Chafa and Tawanda Muparati in the CHAN squad while their coach Callisto Pasuwa is assistant to national coach Ian Gorowa.
“Besides the issue of the players, we could have created a counter attraction between the BancABC match and the CHAN assignment,” said Ndebele.
Ndebele also pointed out that it was impossible to hold the BancABC semi-finals on the weekend of August 24 and 25 because that is when the Warriors would be in Ndola, Zambia for the CHAN reverse fixture.
“The BancABC matches cannot not be played on August 24 because of the Warriors’ away game while early in September Zimbabwe should be playing Mozambique,” said Ndebele.
The Warriors are set to play their last 2014 World Cup qualifier against Mozambique on September 8 and if the Premiership has to juggle with earlier dates, then it has to be on the weekend of August 31 and September 1.
“It means we have to sit down and come up with new dates for the BancABC matches,” said Ndebele.
While Ndebele was yesterday cracking his head over the BancABC semi-final games he appeared to have found some solution that would result in the resumption of the Castle Lager Premiership programme with the PSL chief executive revealing that there would be matches tomorrow and Thursday.
“The midweek games should go ahead and we cannot afford to postpone them again. I think all the teams are ready to fulfil the fixtures and even the players who are in the national team will need this chance to compete,” said Ndebele.
Ndebele said they had brought forward the Bulawayo derby pitting Chicken Inn and How Mine from Friday to tomorrow to enable the duo of Felix Chindungwe and Danny Phiri ample time to travel to Harare soon after their match and join the Warriors camp ahead of Sunday’s game.
Gorowa could, however, be the biggest loser of the re-arranged programme as he will now only have his players together on Friday, which is in start contrast to last week when he had all his charges in one place without disturbances.
The national coach had given his charges time off to join their families for the Heroes holiday with the hope that they would regroup tonight and resume their training tomorrow morning.
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