Zimbabwe: Zim Football Just Around the Corner

It is now only two weeks days before the promised 2021 football programme roars into life after a year or so without the sport in the country.

It is a promise that the Premier Soccer League (PSL) made to the nation and we will hold them accountable should the game fail to hit our pitches as pledged.

We hope that the PSL and their clubs are well acquainted with the Covid-19 requirements and will be able to provide and follow them without affecting the smooth flow of our football.

Events on the ground seem to suggest that the players and the coaches are ready and it is now left to the administrators to prove that they too are also fully prepared by putting up measures that do not leave any chance for disruption.

The government is watching and has warned that they won't hesitate to stop the game again if World Health Organisation and ministry of Health Covid-19 protocols are not followed.

The good news is that there is movement at the PSL where they are in the middle of recruiting Covid-19 compliance officers who will "monitor and supervise all club Covid-19 training and match protocols."

The starting point is the proposed 18-team knockout tournament that is billed to begin on May 15 and spread to Bulawayo, Harare, Mutare, and Zvishavane, but without spectators.

It is a good experimental exercise to see whether it would be possible for the game to return in full flight as anticipated in June when the usual league competition is earmarked for a return.

All the clubs in the 18-team Premiership have taken to training and it is now up to those running the game to ensure that football returns successfully and, for that matter, safely.

There was a time in 2020 when the same promise was made, but the football authorities failed to honour that pledge due to problems we all understood.

Now the environment has changed and so too are the circumstances and the nation this time around will not entertain any excuses for failure to take to the fields.

So far, we have not been told who is sponsoring this knockout competition and neither have we been told as to who is bankrolling the league when home-and-away point-system football finally comes back.

What we know is that football is coming back and every football fan is excited even though for a start they won't be able to watch their favourite teams in action.

What is important for them right now is to see whether FC Platinum will continue their dominance of the Zimbabwean game or whether CAPS United, Dynamos and Highlanders have finally woken up from their sleep.

After initially struggling to pay their affiliation fees, Whawha, Tenax, and Bulawayo City will also finally get the opportunity to prove that they belong to the Premiership, not the lower ranks where they were competing.

Along with Nesbert Saruchera's Cranborne Bullets, the four teams have not kicked a ball in the Premiership since gaining promotion at the end of the 2019 season.

The pre-season knockout tournament will also offer them the chance to prove that they won't follow the path of clubs who get promotion at the end of one year and then get relegated the next year.

The question is: Will it be another FC Platinum year or another club will take over as the kings of Zimbabwean football? Or it is just talk that football is finally returning to Zimbabwe?

Surely, it has been a long wait, one that saw too many people lose their sources of income and we are happy that finally football is coming back. -- That is, if there is no U-TURN during the course of this week.

For your views, comments and suggestions, mkariati@gmail.com or WhatsApp on 0773 266 779.

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