Business Day

Fixture backlog puts PSL in fix

- NICK SAID Cape Town

THE Premier Soccer League (PSL) faces a major headache trying to fit in the remaining domestic fixtures this season after both Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United advanced in CAF club competitio­ns at the weekend.

The number of matches left to be played for the pair has caused a blockage that means there is little room to move for the PSL. Much rests on the outcome of this weekend’s Nedbank Cup quarterfin­als — and if Kaizer Chiefs, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport all advance it will add to the congestion.

While the PSL insists the league programme will not be extended beyond the final weekend on May 18, it means a punishing schedule for defending champions Pirates and SuperSport. With the Buccaneers set to take on Democratic Republic of Congo side TP Mazembe at home in the CAF Champions League on April 20, their match against Black Leopards has been postponed.

They also still need to fit in another outstandin­g fixture against Mamelodi Sundowns that was reschedule­d from this past weekend due to CAF commitment­s.

The return leg against the Congolese in Lubumbashi will be played on May 5, the same weekend as the Nedbank Cup semifinals, though Pirates are no longer in this competitio­n. It means fitting in eight matches for Pirates in five weeks, though travel to and from DR Congo would likely rule out the midweek dates either side of that fixture for the two outstandin­g PSL matches to be played.

Should SuperSport advance in their Nedbank Cup quarterfin­al against Maritzburg United, the semifinals on May 4-5 will clash with their home CAF Confederat­ion Cup second leg tie with Egyptian side ENPPI. That means there would be no choice but to take the fixture into the middle of the week, possibly in the days leading up to their meeting with the Egyptians.

It would also mean 11 matches in five weeks for SuperSport. New dates still need to be found for their reschedule­d league fixtures against Kaizer Chiefs and Maritzburg United that have been moved from April 17 and April 20 respective­ly to accommodat­e their trip to Egypt.

Those would also likely have to be moved to midweek dates next month, making for a frenetic finish to the season.

Meanwhile, the winning total of goals for this year’s PSL top scorer prize is likely to be the lowest ever in the history of profession­al football in the country.

Katlego Mashego and Bernard Parker share top place with 10 goals each, but there are a further 10 players within three goals of the leaders and with enough matches in which to overtake them. But whether any player manages to get to the previous lowest total of 14 is looking unlikely. With Mark Gleeson

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