A relook at a football season characterised by more lows than highs

The Chronicle

Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter

DRAMATIC highs and lows characterised the just ended Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season.

Clubs, fans and coaches were not spared by the pendulum of fate.

This was the first full season for local teams after Covid-19 and there were high expectations for the return of football after a two-year hiatus.

It is the often unpredictable twists and turns of the Premier League that keep fans hooked and this season provided a few as FC Platinum ran away with the title.

The likes of Dynamos and Chicken Inn were at some point in the race but fizzled out as the race went on. A chunk of coaches were shown the exit door but there were lessons to take from the season going into next year.

1. Reduce gate charges

If anything, the Chibuku Super Cup final played last Sunday was an indication that the local premiership which some had proclaimed “dead” can still be resuscitated.

The topflight league has been hit by very low turnout of fans. The much hyped Battle of Zimbabwe featuring the country’s two biggest teams, Dynamos and Highlanders, was watched by less than 3 000 fans.

The fans’ love for the local game has been questioned. But the Chibuku Super Cup final was evidence that fans still love the local game as a final pitting just Herentals and Bulawayo Chiefs attracted close to 10 000 fans.

Some are of the view that the US$3 entry fee that PSL charges for league games is too much and the numbers that came to watch the final for US$1 was evidence of that.

2. Worrying football quality

Some have attributed the low attendance at Stadia to the poor quality that has been displayed by teams.
It is agreeable within the football fraternity that at youth level, emphasis should be on basic techniques such as passing, ball control, shooting and dribbling. By the time the players join the topflight league they should tick all these boxes.

However, that is not the case at professional level locally as experts and coaches have complained about players’ lack of technical ability. Some matches honestly belonged to the boozers’ league. A marked lack of passion, shortage of creativity and a general lackadaisical approach underlined some matches.

Some believe a renewed spark of interest in the local game can be attained if the quality of football is improved.

3. FC Platinum now big boys

If it’s about winning trophies, exhibiting professionalism, showing seriousness to adhering to club licence requirements and displaying a good brand of football, perhaps it’s time FC Platinum join the big three.

Highlanders, Dynamos and Caps United are the proclaimed giants of Zimbabwean football, but FC Platinum have done enough to be counted as a top side in the country.

The Zvishavane miners are now the only side from outside Harare and Bulawayo to win four titles on the trot.

Not only have they won the league as many times, they have also won two Chibuku Super Cup titles in 2014 and 2021 and reached the final of the 2016 edition before losing out to Ngezi Platinum Stars. Certainly FC Platinum are now big boys.

4. Violence is a recurring cancer

More needs to be done to stamp out violence and acts of hooliganism at the stadium. The culture of violence at stadiums is a big turn-off for soccer-loving families.

An improvement in crowd control, appropriate policing, state-of-the-art CCTV systems, and the efforts of clubs and the PSL are needed to make football a fan and family-friendly environment, but that would require loads of investment and financial muscle.

5. Stadia not up to standard

Most of the local pitches are so bumpy they provide for awkward and sometimes dangerous play. Coaches often grumble about the unplayable surfaces, particularly Vengere Stadium which has a small and uneven pitch. Coaches nit-pick about the bouncy surfaces which they say make it near impossible to play good football, leading teams to play route one football which is undesirable for the fans.

Article Source: The Chronicle

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