All First Division clubs – both Inland and Coastal – only return to action on April 4 to play their remaining three games of the season.
Only Dynamos and Mpumalanga Black Aces will play this weekend in a rescheduled match that was initially supposed to be played last month. The situation has left most clubs moaning as they will be virtually inactive during that period, save for a few that will be lucky to proceed further in the Nedbank Cup.
Though having given players a week-long break, Inland Stream leaders Jomo Cosmos have devised a plan that will take them to Durban and Namibia over the next two weeks.
“We just have to play friendly games. Next week we are off to Durban to play Nathi Lions and Durban Stars. The following weekend we will then cross over to Namibia where we will also play further friendly matches,” says Andrew Rabutla, the Cosmos team manager.
Aces CEO Peter Koutroulis is furious that his team will have such a huge break at a time when they have found their rhythm in the quest for promotion.
“This is a big problem for all teams. We are told that this break was brought in under the impression that the Bafana Bafana development team will be involved in some tournaments. But we are really going to suffer because there is no way you can keep the team in shape without playing any competitive matches in seven weeks. The players will again be rusty by the time we resume games.”
Coastal Stream promotion hopefuls African Warriors will also resort to friendly matches.
“We will just have to arrange friendly matches to help kit the players fit and active,” says Fees Moloi, the African Warriors manager. “But after our game against Ikapa Sporting on Saturday, we decided to give the players a 10-day break and so they will return on February 24, from which we will start playing friendly games.
“The problem with giving players a longer break is that there is no guarantee that they will all follow the programmes we give them. So better we have them around in a group so that we work with them.”
Sergio dos Santos coach at fourth-placed Ikapa Sporting, who are still in with a chance of sneaking into the Play-Offs, says the break will have adverse effects.
“I don’t understand why we had to play so many games in quick succession and then have to go through a long break. We are lucky in that we are still in the Nedbank, but still it is bad. This is crazy and we will surely be affected. I don’t know what the rush was for. So for us in the next two weeks we will just have light training sessions,” Dos Santos says.
Hanover Park have already been given a three-week break, starting from the time that they played their last game just before Valentine’s Day.
At some clubs it is a known fact that players will struggle to get salaries for the month of March when they are inactive.