Mamelodi Sundowns face daunting fixture jam with league, cup and continental commitments
Posted: 30 March 2017 Time: 11:37
The PSL’s announcement the Absa Premiership will conclude at the end of May has presented Mamelodi Sundowns with the daunting task of playing 18 games in the space of eight weeks.
During that period, Sundowns play 13 league matches, two CAF Champions League group-stage games as well as a Nedbank Cup last-16 tie against Golden Arrows, which could lead to another two games added to the load, should they go deep in the Ke Yona competition.
That would mean 18 games in 56 days, starting from April 1 to May 27 for the Brazilians, who have already played 38 games since June last year.
Worse still, while the majority of PSL clubs will enjoy time off at the end of the campaign, Sundowns will then have to play another four CAF Champions League group matches from June 3 to July 9, with the possibility of being involved in the Nedbank Cup final set for either June 16 or June 24.
Furthermore, Sundowns will see plenty of their international players depart for their respective national teams during the FIFA break from June 5-16.
The risk facing the Brazilians is they will not have a proper rest for the second year running as the 2017/18 domestic season then starts in August.
International trends advise that top professionals get at least four weeks break between two seasons, and then six weeks of pre-season training ahead of the start of a new campaign, but that will not be possible for Sundowns.
It is a paining programme the Chloorkop giants must endure for being part of a league that is not aligned according to the CAF full calendar year.
The PSL’s other three teams still involved in CAF competitions, SuperSport United, Bidvest Wits and Platinum Stars, will fall into the same pit should they all progress to the group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Wits have 11 league games to play before May 27 and must also face Jomo Cosmos in the Nedbank Cup, before they play Egyptian club Smouha SC over two legs next month in the Confederation Cup play-offs.
And, should they emerge as aggregate winners, the Students will have two group matches to play in May, which means just like Sundowns they could play as many as 18 games in the next 56 days.
SuperSport United and Platinum Stars have 10 league games to play and both must still play in the Nedbank Cup last 16, against Kwadukuza United and Baroka respectively.
And, with both Matsatsantsa and Dikwena still in the CAF Confederation Cup, they must also play in the play-off rounds next month.
SuperSport have to deal with Liberian club Barrack Young Controllers while Stars have AS Tanda of Ivory Coast awaiting them.
Winning those play-off matches would lead to the same consequences of playing two group matches in May, and then remaining active on the continent until the completion of the group stages on July 9.
Considering the long distances involved with traveling on the continent, this upcoming period will stretch all four clubs to the limit and increase the calls for domestic football to revert to a full calendar year programme.