PSL bio-bubble intact as ‘project restart’ reboots

JOHANNESBURG – The South African Football Association (Safa) says that it will play its role in ensuring that health and safety protocols are carried out to the tee – during the resumption of football on Saturday.

On Monday South African football made significant progress from the fruitless squabbling between Safa and the Premier Soccer League (PSL) as the league confirmed that “project restart” will get underway in a bio-bubble that will be housed in Gauteng on Saturday.

The Nedbank Cup semi-finals will raise the curtain of the resumption of the domestic season with a double header at Orlando Stadium. Baroka FC will lock horns with Bloemfontein FC (kick-off at 4pm).

Later, Mamelodi Sundowns – the Telkom Knockout champions – will be hoping to reach their second successive cup final at the expense of Bidvest Wits (kick-off at 7pm).

With all the stakeholders somewhat pleased by the unanimous decision, compliance officers from both the organisations will have to dust off their stethoscopes and revise medical literature as the 32 clubs will be making their way to the biological safe environment this week.

Before returning to training, Michael Murphy ensured that clubs had undergone all Covid-19 testing procedures

Dr Thulani Ngwenya, Safa’s head of medical team, had to see to it that match officials started preparing for the restart.

But with the mother body assigned by the government to ensure that there’s a seamless restart,

Ngwenya and Mlungisi Ncame will be the mother body’s mouthpiece, especially with the last round of testing 48 hours before assembling in the bio-bubble.

“Safa’s role is very clear in terms of the games. It will be to oversee compliance. Our doctor Ngwenya and Ncame will be actively involved (during the restart),” Safa acting chief executive officer Tebogo Motlanthe said.

“They (the compliance officers from both organisations) have been working well so far.

“But they have to ensure that they advise the government of the status (of everything that is happening) and they are ready to do so.”

All the 32 clubs will be responsible for paying for their own transport and accommodation while they are residing in the bio-bubble for almost seven weeks.

But Safa appear to be a step ahead in their responsibility, considering that referees are already in Johannesburg.

“The officials have been in Johannesburg since they came for their respective tests – match levels and Covid-19 related.

“So, it will then be easier for them to assemble in the bio-bubble 48 hours before the season restarts,” Motlanthe explained.

Bafana Bafana’s Molefi Ntseki will also be delighted with the decision as the national team fixtures are also set to resume later this year.

“That’s what we’ve been saying, as Safa, that we want the league to resume and conclude so that the national team can have a fully fit squad for their respective qualifiers in the near future,” Motlanthe added.

In the bigger scheme of things, “project restart” will ensure that justice is served for all the clubs that are chasing their respective targets – championship, promotion, avoiding relegation and finishing in the top-eight.

@MihlaliBaleka

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