LOC cuts season

THE Local Organising Committee plans to revise the entire format for the 2009/10 Premier Soccer League season so that all local players will be available for pre-World Cup camps in March, April and May.

THE Local Organising Committee plans to revise the entire format for the 2009/10 Premier Soccer League season so that all local players will be available for pre-World Cup camps in March, April and May.

The agreement for what was termed "the national interest" assured clubs that a pressurised initial Premier League programme would not be affected - but clubs would have to make "the best of the situation" for the PSL cup competitions at the tail-end of the season.

But what may have been overlooked at the time was the fact that South Africa's representatives in Confederation of African Football's (CAF) Champions League would be shorn of their top players for the continental fixtures in March, April and May as well - a major blow if based on the evidence that Bafana coach Carlos Alberto Parreira has included seven Pirates players and four from SuperSport for the first camp in Durban this month.

And, on this basis, Emile Baron, Bongani Khumalo, Morgan Gould and Daine Klate (SuperSport United) and Moeneeb Josephs, Andile Jali, Happy Jele, Thulasizwe Mbuyane, Teko Modise, Gert Schalkwyk and Lucas Thwala (Pirates) could all be doubtful starters when needed for CAF Champions League games in March, April and May.

While the two PSL clubs have relatively easy games in their opening preliminary-round Champions League fixtures, the opposition will tend to become more formidable the longer the competition lasts.

And it has long been an Achilles heel of South African soccer that local teams have generally performed abysmally in CAF club competitions. The blasé attitude adopted by many local clubs that the CAF competitions are of secondary importance and costly has proved short-sighted.

To some extent this head-in-the-sand approach has been rectified, with the PSL administration providing clubs going into African competitions with a R1million grant to offset their travelling expenses.

But it remains an ominous 15 years since Pirates secured South Africa's only success in Africa's premier club competition, now known as the African Champions League - and it will now be difficult to end the impasse this year. - Sapa

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