By Mikia Kalati
The Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) announced last week that they have decided to postpone the start of the premier league second round fixtures until after the end of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament currently taking place in South Africa.
With due respect to both the continental competition and our league governing body, I think their decision was not ideal for both our league and our national team Likuena.
LCS play Zimbabwean champions Dynamos in the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Champions League on February 17 while Likuena host Zambia in a 2014 World Cup qualifier a few weeks later.
My worry is that both LCS and Likuena players will be lacking match fitness leading to these important international matches.
One has to also consider that football has not reached a professional level in our country and this break means that these players, as usual, will be spending most of their time enjoying and watching the Africa Cup of Nations drinking in pubs.
Dynamos are ahead of LCS because they were once finalists in this tournament and they play in the Champions League year in, and year out.
Meanwhile, Likuena face a Zambian side that won the Africa Cup of Nations just a year ago.
Masheshena, as the correctional service side is affectionately known, have not played a competitive match since their 1-0 win over Likhopo in December last year and their coach Mosholu “Shoes” Mokhothu has not made it a secret that he is really concerned about the mental and physical state of his players before the important caf fixture.
On the other hand Dynamos just came back from China, where they had a training camp as part of their preparations for the tie against LCS and will also be involved in a four team tournament in their home country that will feature South African giants, Sundowns, before they host our champions in Harare in the first leg match on February 17.
I feel the league body should have considered these factors before deciding to postpone the start of the second round fixture.
One also has to bear in mind that the January cross-border tournament that was to feature Kaizer Chiefs and Bloemfontein Celtic as well as four local teams including LCS was called-off at the last minute.
Continental competitions are very important for both our clubs and the national team and should be made a priority in the future if we really want to succeed on the international stage.
The national team has also started their preparations for their 2014 World Cup qualifier against Zambia scheduled for Setsoto Stadium on March 22.
I feel it’s going to be very difficult for coach Leslie Notsi to get his squad sharp for the tie against Chipolopolo, who themselves were playing in a competitive tournament in South Africa.
The Likuena squad that will play Zambia will mostly be made of local based players who are enjoying a break from competitive football since December 15 last year.
If I have to remind the premier league, this LCS team was eliminated in the preliminary stage by Uganda Revenue Authority in the same competition last year while Likuena had a disastrous start to the 2014 World Cup qualifiers losing 0-7 to Ghana and surely this situation brings nightmares to the coaches of the two teams.
I therefore feel it will take a miracle for LCS to eliminate Dynamos out of the continental club competition and for Likuena to remind
us of the “class of 2000”, which beat Zambia 3-1 in the regional Cosafa Cup challenge in the quarter-finals before reaching the finals where they lost to Zimbabwe.