Absence of crowds may be blessing in disguise for Alan Clark

Black Leopards coach Alan Clark.
Black Leopards coach Alan Clark.
Image: Philip Maeta/Gallo Images

Black Leopards coach Alan Clark believes that his side could benefit from playing matches behind closed doors when the Premier Soccer League (PSL) programme resumes.

The PSL, South African Football Association (Safa) and the government are still discussing the safety protocols to be followed to ensure the safe return of domestic matches without fans next month.

The German Bundesliga was the first league in Europe to resume matches without spectators with La Liga in Spain, Italy's Serie A and the English Premier League having followed suit.

Despite Leopards being used to playing in front of capacity crowds at Thohoyandou Stadium, Clark feels his side will play without fear and pressure from their supporters.

"Probably we will be one of the teams mostly affected by a lack of a crowd. We quite [often] have many supporters in the stands when we have home games," Clark told Sowetan. "Sometimes at home if you are not doing well, in the position that we are in, we feel a little bit of pressure.

"If you are not playing in front of fans, at least that pressure might not be there for the players. But I think it is a difficult environment and a little bit strange. I mean, I have been watching the Bundesliga, EPL and La Liga, it is a very strange environment to watch on TV... I think it is even worse live.

"It is a huge loss for us not to be able to play in front of our fans."

Leopards are currently at the bottom of the league table with 20 points from 24 matches, three behind AmaZulu, Polokwane City, and Baroka, who are all tied on 23.

They will be desperate to move away from the danger zone when matches resume.

"We want to do well for our supporters and we want them in the stadium to cheer for us but when times are also tough, the supporters show their frustrations as they only want the best for the team," Clark continued.

"They are trying to push the team as much as they can but without that pressure, sometimes players can play a bit with freedom. Maybe they can show their abilities a bit better without that pressure of playing at home."

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