Harare derby in doubt

HARARE - The Premier Soccer League (PSL) is mooting cancelling this weekend’s Harare derby between Dynamos and CAPS United due to lack of an appropriate venue to host the clash.

DeMbare are scheduled to host bitter rivals Makepekepe this weekend as the 2017 Castle Lager Premiership season slowly gathers momentum.

The match was supposed to have been staged at the National Sports Stadium but that is no longer possible due to a church crusade that is to be hosted at the venue.

The organises of the church crusade which is also taking place this weekend had already booked the venue in advance from the ministry of Local Government thereby shutting out the PSL action.

With new natural turf at Rufaro Stadium still not yet ready to host matches, the league has been left with no option but to contemplate postponing the Harare derby to a later date.

Although no final decision has been made yet, PSL chief executive officer Kenny Ndebele was pessimistic about the derby going ahead this weekend.  

“We are just waiting for the initial report from Zifa since they inspected Rufaro Stadium sometime last week,” Ndebele told the Daily News.

“Given that Rufaro and the National Sports Stadium are not available, we will have to postpone the derby to a later date.

“At the moment, this is a very likelihood from the information that I have at the moment.”

The report from the Zifa First Instances Body which inspected Rufaro last week is expected to be available by today which is when the final decision on the derby will be made. However, as things stand the match is likely to be cancelled and this is going to create a fixture headache for the PSL. The Harare derby is one of the league’s headline fixtures which brings the most interest across the country and the borders.

With Makepekepe taking part in the African Champions League, the fixture congestion is likely to pile up.     

“This is a concern because CAPS United are also involved in the African Champions League so it is going to be difficult to find another weekend to reschedule the game,” Ndebele said.

CAPS begin their Champions League Group B matches on the weekend of May 12-14 when they travel to Cairo, Egypt, to take on five-time African champions Zamalek. From there on, Makepekepe’s schedule will be punishing as they will have to juggle between the domestic and continental commitments.

In the event they reach the ensuing stages of the competition, it is going to be huge ask for the league to find an extra weekend to fit in the derby in the event that it is postponed. 

In Group B, all of Makepekepe’s opponents are from North Africa and finding connecting flights from southern Africa can prove to be challenging as well.

In order to get to north Africa for a weekend fixture, Makepekepe would need to leave Harare at least on a Tuesday or Wednesday.

Returning to Harare is not easy as well, after a match during the weekend, the Zimbabwe champions would have to travel back home most probably on a later date as well.

This disruption created by the unavailability of the National Sports Stadium has come at a time both CAPS and Dynamos were beginning to find some form after an indifferent start to the season.

Makepekepe had warmed up to the derby with a 4-0 thrashing of Chapungu while DeMbare laboured to beat Yadah FC 1-0.

Even Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane had to intervene last week after the PSL had been ordered not to use the National Sports Stadium as of last weekend.

“We know that some of these facilities in certain instances when sports activities are not happening, they will be hired out to various other activities as a way of raising income in order to look after those facilities especially given the constrained fiscal space at the moment,” Hlongwane said last week.

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