CAF dilemma for league: PSL in fixture-juggling act to accommodate Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Mamelodi Sundowns Pitso Mosimane will face a testing April and even more demanding May should his team make it to the CAF Champions League final.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach Mamelodi Sundowns Pitso Mosimane will face a testing April and even more demanding May should his team make it to the CAF Champions League final.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

The Premier Soccer League (PSL) has insisted that its programme will conclude on May 11 despite the "headache" of postponing fixtures to accommodate Mamelodi Sundowns's participation in the CAF Champions League.

The league has already confirmed they have moved the Orlando Pirates versus Mamelodi Sundowns match from April 27 to next Monday.

This is with the view that Sundowns may progress to the Champions League semifinals that would have the first and second legs played on April 26 and May 4.

Sundowns play Al Ahly on April 7 in the first leg of the quarterfinals and the return leg is scheduled for five days later on April 12.

The trouble is they were due to play SuperSport United in the Tshwane derby on April 7 and then Baroka on April 14.

Not only has the league moved the Pirates/Sundowns clash, but are forced into further postponements.

At the time of writing, the PSL was at an advanced stage of discussions with Sundowns, SuperSport and Baroka to find alternative dates.

Despite all the challenges, PSL spokesperson Luxolo September told Sowetan yesterday that the PSL programme will conclude on May 11 as planned and followed by the Nedbank Cup final on May 18.

"We are adopting a very pragmatic approach with the whole thing," September said.

"We've assisted Sundowns a lot since last year. We want to help, we have to help and we have helped [Sundowns].

"But at some stage, someone has to play. We are at an advanced [stage of] discussions with SuperSport and Sundowns. We will also find a date for Baroka versus Sundowns." September explained.

"This is a headache, but one that comes with success. We want Sundowns to do well and win the Champions League.

"However, the last two fixtures [on May 4 and 11] must be a simultaneous kick-off, so we have to play everything before that."

It gets even more complicated because Sundowns's penultimate League clash against Golden Arrows on May 4 takes place on the same date as the second leg of the Champions League semis, should they make it that far.

SuperSport confirmed they have been in discussions with the league to move the Tshwane derby.

"I can confirm that the match will definitely not take place on Sunday [April 7]," said Matsatsantsa spokesperson Brian Moshoeshoe.

Sundowns spokesperson Thulani Thuswa was unable to offer an immediate comment yesterday.

Sundowns fixtures

(Before any fixture postponement and assuming they reach the CAF Champions League final)

April 1: v Pirates (Away)

April 5: v Al Ahly (Home)

April 7: v SuperSport (H)

April 12: v Al Ahly (A)

April 14: v Baroka (A)

April 17: v Leopards (A)

April 23: v Chippa (H)

April 26: (CAF CL semis first leg)

May 4: v Arrows (H)

May 4: v (CAF CL semis second leg)

May 11: v Free State Stars (A)

May 24: (CAF CL final first leg)

May 31: (CAF CL final second leg)

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