Stuart Baxter awaits PSL decision on postponements
Safa wants league games postponed to give Bafana more time to prepare for key Nations Cup qualifier
The Premier Soccer League is to shortly make a decision on a request from the SA Football Association (Safa) to postpone games ahead of the vital Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya to give Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter more time to prepare.
Safa wrote to the league seeking a postponement of matches on the weekend of March 15-17 so that the national squad could go into camp earlier ahead of their last Group E qualifier in which they must avoid defeat to go through.
“The league has received the request and it was discussed at last week’s board of governors’ meeting‚” said PSL spokesperson Lux September. “The league will make an announcement in the next days after we have completed talking to all the stakeholders like the clubs‚ sponsors and broadcasters.”
Sources say Baxter is likely to be granted his request with matches involving Bidvest Wits‚ Cape Town City‚ Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United moved to other dates as the fixture list is reshuffled.
But the benefit would seem debatable because Baxter will be unable to get early either his overseas-based players or those from Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates‚ who are playing their last African Champions League group games on March 16.
To make matters worse, Sundowns will be in Morocco and Pirates in Guinea. Their players who are in the Bafana squad face lengthy travel and will be unable to get back before March 18 when the Fifa window for international matches starts and Baxter would ordinarily have got his players.
The PSL has been put in a tight corner by the Safa request‚ according to officials‚ and will not want to be blamed for not helping the national cause should Bafana lose to Libya and fail to qualify for the 2019 Nations Cup finals in Egypt.
“It will be a political decision with the league stuck between a rock and a hard place‚” one official said on condition of anonymity.
The game against Libya is yet to be fixed but will be on either March 22‚ 23 or 24.
The venue will be either Egypt or Tunisia because Libya has been banned from hosting international matches due to its tenuous security situation.
Baxter wants more time to work with his players for the vital away game. If SA lose they will miss out on qualification for the 2019 finals in Egypt.
Bafana need only draw the game but it promises to be an intimidating tie against a Libyan sidethat is mainly home-based and therefore able to hold an extensive camp before the match.