Mamelodi Sundowns' CAF Champions League progression a fresh headache for PSL fixture machine
Posted: 20 March 2017 Time: 08:45
The PSL might be presented with a fresh fixture headache ignited by Mamelodi Sundowns’ progression in the CAF Champions League and the presence of three PSL teams in the CAF Confederation Cup.
The group stage matches of the continent’s flagship club competition will start on May 12 and run through until July 9, with the quarter-finals then kicking off in September.
Depending on the kind of draw that Sundowns get in the Champions League, some of their domestic fixtures are facing the risk of being moved due to the heavy load that comes with travelling to countries such as Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, who provide nine of the teams in the last 16.
Travelling into and out of these countries is so difficult that it can stretch over 30 hours due to the fact that there are limited or no direct flights to OR Tambo Airport from some of those destinations, which then means flying out of the continent to either the Middle East or Europe, and then connecting to Johannesburg from there.
Having already felt the strain of fulfilling 12 fixtures in the last five-and-a-half weeks, the Brazilians will have to play at least six games next month and then possibly nine in May when the Champions League group stages start.
While the month of April appears reasonable for Sundowns, with games against Kaizer Chiefs, Golden Arrows, SuperSport United, Free State Stars, Ajax Cape Town and Golden Arrows all laying in wait, it is May that could prove problematic.
Five league games await Sundowns in May, plus two Champions League matches, with the possibility of more games in the Nedbank Cup if they keep progressing.
Meanwhile, for the trio of Platinum Stars, Bidvest Wits and SuperSport, who are all involved in the Confederation Cup, they will now be unable to play their respective Nedbank Cup last-16 matches on the weekend allocated to this knockout competition [April 7-9] as they will all be involved in the play-off matches on that weekend, with the second legs to follow the next week.
Should any of those teams then proceed to the group stages, they will face a similar challenge to Sundowns, which will stretch their squads to the limits.
Last year, Sundowns closed off a marathon calendar year, having played 55 games in all competitions with plenty of their domestic fixtures postponed as they progressed further on the continent to eventually be crowned African kings, before heading off to the FIFA Club World Cup.