Johannesburg - The Premier Soccer League (PSL) on Friday have confirmed five Premiership fixtures, scheduled during the African Nations Championship (Chan) tournament in January, will go ahead regardless of Bafana Bafana’s participation in Chan.
“Due to the heavy backlog created mainly by the progression of Orlando Pirates in the CAF Champions League tournament, it was decided that some of their postponed matches will be scheduled during this period,” PSL chief executive Brand de Villiers said in a statement on Friday.
The five fixtures would affect six clubs: AmaZulu, Orlando Pirates, Mamelodi Sundowns SuperSport United, Kaizer Chiefs and Ajax Cape Town.
The announcement came three days before Bafana coach Gordon Igesund was set to name his squad for the tournament, which was not a Fifa-endorsed competition.
As a result, teams were not obligated to release players for Chan, raising serious doubts that Igesund would have his strongest possible side available for the duration of the competition, which runs from January 11 to February 1.
“Both Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United will be participating in Caf [club tournaments] in 2014 from February,” De Villiers said.
“It was therefore decided that their outstanding postponed matches will also be played in January to alleviate congestion.”
Kaizer Chiefs had averaged seven players in each of Igesund’s last four teams, while Pirates had been equally well-represented.
Sundowns and SuperSport had not enjoyed the same representation in the national teams, but vital stars like Bongani Zungu, Katlego Mashego, Tebogo Langerman and Punch Masenamela could also be in danger of missing out on the tournament.
Adding to Igesund’s woes was the fact that Chan rules dictated only players plying their trade within South Africa were eligible for the tournament.
The likes of Dean Furman, Bongani Khumalo, Ayanda Xulu and Tokelo Rantie were, therefore, ruled out of contention playing outside of South Africa's borders.
Pirates were scheduled to play SuperSport United on January 18, just seven days after the start of Chan, and it looked likely both teams would want their strongest teams available in order to continue their pursuit of the Premiership title.
Elsewhere, Mamelodi Sundowns were due to host Kaizer Chiefs on January 28 in a league derby, by which time the Chan tournament would have concluded the quarterfinal stage and would be gearing up for the semi-finals of the competition.