Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
AFTER four months of inactivity, the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League action returns, with match day one matches kicking off on Saturday, March 18.
At least five of the 18 PSL teams will play their home matches at alternative venues after their home grounds were condemned.
The Premier Soccer League has allayed fears of matches being affected by the unavailability of stadiums that are either condemned or under renovation.
“We will play our games as scheduled. Our hope is that those facilities that are going through work will be completed before the next round of stadium inspections. Otherwise, we’re good to go and clubs are encouraged to make sure that they complete the registration of their players by Friday, March 17,” said PSL chief executive officer Kennedy Ndebele.
Hwange, the newly promoted duo of Sheesham FC, Simba Bhora, and Cranborne Bullets are the teams that will play their opening games at alternative venues.
Hwange’s Colliery Stadium, Sheasham’s Ascot Stadium in Gweru, Simba Bhora’s Shamva home ground, and Vengere Stadium of Rusape who are home to Cranborne Bullets and Black Rhinos have failed to meet requirements to host topflight matches.
The other stadiums condemned are Sakubva in Mutare which is home to Manica Diamonds, ZPC Kariba’s Nyamhunga, and newboys’ Green Fuel home in Chisumbanje which is under construction.
With the sad reality of playing home matches away, it means that the community of Hwange and Victoria Falls who were hoping to watch the biggest opening weekend match against Dynamos will have to wait longer for topflight action to be played at the Colliery.
For Dynamos, the condemnation of the Colliery Stadium is a blessing as they will only travel 438km to play in Bulawayo instead of the 770km one way trip to Hwange.
It means that DeMbare fans in Hwange and Victoria Falls who were hoping to see Dynamos’ prodigal son and poster boy Denver Mukamba, newly signed Arthur Musiyiwa, Eli Ilunga and the Moyo twins Elvis and Kevin, will have to travel to Bulawayo to watch their beloved side.
Sheasham, who are still constructing their Bata Stadium in Gweru also have to play outside the Midlands capital for their game against Chicken Inn. The encounter is likely to be played at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane.
Defending champions FC Platinum are likely to play their title defence at the National Sports Stadium against Simba Bhora. The National Sports Stadium is the only Harare venue cleared for PSL games.
The giant stadium will cater for Harare teams Dynamos, Caps United, Black Rhinos, Herentals and Yadah, with Cranbourne as well as Simba likely to use it too.
The other option is for some Harare teams to use Ngezi’s Baobab Stadium.
Bulawayo, who have three teams in the PSL, Highlanders, Chicken Inn and Bulawayo Chiefs have two stadiums, Barbourfields and Luveve.
The other cleared facility is Triangle United’s Gibbo.
Match day 1 fixtures
Yadah FC v Green Fuel, Hwange v Dynamos, Sheasham FC v Chicken Inn, Simba Bhora v FC Platinum, Cranborne Bullets v Black Rhinos, Highlanders v ZPC Kariba, Bulawayo Chiefs v Ngezi Platinum Stars, Caps United v Manica Diamonds, Triangle United v Herentals College. – @ZililoR