Eddie Chikamhi, Harare Bureau
THE Premier Soccer League remained adamant yesterday the abandoned match between Dynamos and Chapungu should go ahead at Ascot this afternoon, defying all logic, after the hosts had indicated they cannot raise the minimum number of players required by the Fifa football statutes for a competitive match to take place.
The league authorities yesterday said the clubs have an obligation to abide by the ruling made by the PSL Disciplinary Committee to play the remaining 34 minutes of a match abandoned two months ago when a goal-post collapsed at Ascot.
Dynamos were leading 4-0 courtesy of a brace from Emmanuel Mandiranga and goals by Denver Mukamba and the league’s top scorer Christian Joel Epoupa Ntouba when the match was called off.
But while DeMbare are pumped up by the prospects of building on their healthy lead and ascending to the top of the table for the first time this year, Chapungu were still in dire straits yesterday.
The Gweru airmen were not sure if they will be able to play under the set conditions after the Disciplinary Committee ruled that the game be resumed from the minute it was stopped using the players that were in the final 18 of the abandoned match.
Chapungu coach Tendai Chikuni yesterday maintained that three of his players who featured in the abandoned match – Maxwell Mavuto, Ian Nyoni and Raymond Sibanda – were nursing injuries while defender Blessing Zabula has not been feeling well.
Nigel Papias and Ngoni Murisa who started on the bench have since left the club.
Although there is room to make replacements that will be recognised as substitutions, the Airforce of Zimbabwe side had exhausted their allocation of three substitutes following a horror first half in which the home side had conceded three goals leaving them without the minimum number required for today’s match.
And according to the Fifa Law 3, the match might not kick-off.
The Law clearly stipulates that it requires a minimum seven players, including the goalkeeper, for a competitive match of this nature to be considered valid.
According to the rule book, “a match may not start if either team consists of fewer than seven players.”
The PSL risk making a mockery of the competitiveness of the league.
The league spokesperson Kudzai Bare yesterday said they expect the match to go ahead as planned despite the pleas made by Chapungu this week.
“Unfortunately, we can no longer comment on the match but what is certain is that the game is going ahead as scheduled,” said Bare.
Chapungu yesterday maintained they will still find ways to play their part in fulfilling the fixture without having to reduce themselves into a joke.
“As a club there is no way we can change what has been agreed upon by the authorities. We have to abide by the PSL ruling. The big challenge is trying to come up with a strategy to minimise the damage that we had already suffered in that match.
“It’s going to be difficult because we don’t have about five players that were in our squad for that abandoned match.
‘’The worst part is we had made first half substitutions and we no longer have that provision to replace the players that are unavailable.
“Three of our players are injured and one hasn’t been feeling well. We have the medical reports to back that. We have a squad of 25 players but we cannot rope in the other players. It’s tricky,” said Chikuni.
Giants Dynamos, who are set to leave for Gweru this morning, however, do not have similar challenges.
Injured Obey Mwerahari is the only player unavailable and because Dynamos had not made any substitution in that match, they are set to replace the utility man before resumption of the match.
Dynamos coach Lloyd Mutasa yesterday said they are looking to finish off the match and get maximum points that will enable them to climb to the top of the table for the first time after 25 games.
DeMbare have welcomed back Mukamba, Epoupa, Lincolin Zvasiya and Tichaona Chipunza who missed last week’s Harare Derby against Caps United.
“For us it’s just an element of advising one another that it’s still game on. We would want to avoid complacency and make sure that we build on our lead.
“Chapungu are not an easy team at Ascot but the boys are desperate to get to the top of the table for the first time this year and this is probably the best moment to do that.
“It will be a huge morale-booster if we manage to do that. We have been itching for such a moment after many people had written us off as relegation material at the beginning of the season.
“It has been a difficult season with so much competition,’’ said Mutasa.
Champions Caps United will also be in action this afternoon away in Hwange as they battle to clear a fixtures backlog caused by their participation in the Caf Champions League.
Makepekepe have a spring in their step following a 1-0 win over bitter rivals Dynamos in last Sunday’s Harare Derby.
Chapungu v Dynamos (Ascot), Hwange v Caps United (Colliery)
Article Source: The Chronicle