Sundowns shocked after match postponement refused but granted to Pirates
Decision by the Premier Soccer League will raise questions about one team being favoured over another
Cape Town — Mamelodi Sundowns have been refused a postponement of the March 12 league game against Maritzburg United and must now change their travel plans for their last African Champions League clash against Wydad Casablanca in Morocco.
But their title rivals Orlando Pirates have been given permission to move their game against Black Leopards on March 13 in a decision by the Premier Soccer League that will raise questions about one team being favoured over the other.
But league officials say Maritzburg refused to change the game and Sundowns have also have not accepted an alternate date at the end of March — and they have no alternative‚ even though they might be seen as favouring one of the title challengers over the other.
“As you will appreciate for [the] last couple of months‚ we have been trying to accommodate clubs playing in the African Champions League‚ striving to strike a balance in assisting them to play in the continental club competition and also fulfill domestic assignments‚” said the league’s spokesperson Luxolo September on Wednesday.
“It is not always an easy balance. Often it has meant making adjustments that affect other clubs.
“We must also look at what is in the interests of the clubs‚ the league and the schedule and keeping our eyes fixed on finishing the season as scheduled. We have had to take all into consideration in making a difficult decision‚” he added.
Sundowns are now forced to rebook expensive tickets to north Africa and will have less time to prepare for their last group game on March 16.
They had asked several weeks ago for a postponement of the March 12 fixture against Maritzburg United at the Harry Gwala Stadium so that they could fly to Morocco on March 10 and have plenty of time to get ready for a tough last group game against Wydad.
But the PSL refused the request in a letter to Sundowns on March 5.
Pirates’ match against Black Leopards however, is off.
Pirates also play their last group match in the African Champions League on March 16, against Horoya of Guinea, in Conakry.
Sundowns officials are aghast that the PSL turned down their request to postpone the next the game and are querying why one team is being allowed to change but not the other.
Pirates’ game is now being played on March 29 at the Orlando Stadium, the same weekend as the Nedbank Cup quarterfinal.
The league told Sundowns they can move the Maritzburg match to the same date‚ but Sundowns allegedly refused because the first leg of the African Champions League quarterfinals is the following weekend.