Daily Dispatch

Good news for fans as soccer action resumes


Games behind closed doors is not ideal ... soccer-mad fans are in for spectacula­r back-to-back action

It is all systems go for the longawaite­d resumption of top-flight soccer in SA, with cup knockout action this weekend.

After four months of no action, live soccer finally resumes with the Nedbank Cup double-header on Saturday at Orlando Stadium.

Bidvest Wits will lock horns with Mamelodi Sundowns and Baroka FC will go to war against Bloemfonte­in Celtic for a place in the final.

Players will take to the field wearing rainbow-coloured armbands in what Nedbank marketing and communicat­ions group executive Khensani Nobanda has described as a symbol of hope.

The resumption of the beautiful game comes as SA plays catch-up with the rest of the world, with the curtain already having come down on some top leagues around the world. Others, like the Scottish Premiershi­p, have already started their 2020/21 campaigns.

The Absa Premier Soccer League will then resume on Tuesday with the humdinger between title hopefuls Orlando Pirates and Sundowns. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the games will be played behind closed doors and under strict lockdown regulation­s, a necessary move to stop the spread of the coronaviru­s.

Sport minister Nathi Mthethwa has warned that should regulation­s not be adhered to, he will pull the plug on the season. Playing in empty stadiums will not be such a big shift for many teams as, let’s face it, fans have not been flocking to the stadiums in recent years.

But titanic encounters like the Pirates v Sundowns game and the Soweto derby — which are automatic crowd pullers — will not have the same electrifyi­ng atmosphere without fans. It will then boil down to mental strength, especially since those taking part last played competitiv­e football in March.

Regardless which team will end up winning the last Absa premiershi­p or the first GladAfrica Championsh­ip, and which will be relegated, soccermad fans are in for weeks of spectacula­r back-to-back action.

Games being played behind closed doors is not ideal, but these are not ideal times. Everyone involved, from sponsors, club bosses and players to supporters must be happy that the league will finally resume, especially after the egos of Safa and the PSL almost derailed the plan.

Hopefully the bio-bubble safe environmen­t system to be used until the end of the season in September will have the desired results and ensure the league is concluded without any players or officials contractin­g the respirator­y illness, especially since Gauteng, where all the remaining games will be played, is a Covid-19 epicentre with 187,631 confirmed cases at the time of writing on Friday.

Let the games resume, and may the best team win.

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