The Premier Soccer League was thrown into further turmoil Wednesday after the BancABC semi-final replay between Dynamos and Highlanders at the National Sports Stadium failed to take off.
It was game that was supposed to bring closure to the saga that started on August 21 at Barbourfields Stadium with the abandonment of the initial game and went through an ad-hoc committee, the High Court and later Zifa.
But there was no end in sight as money-related problems in the Dynamos camp ensured that the game would not take place, leaving egg on the face of PSL chairman Twine Phiri and the sponsors, BancABC.
Highlanders arrived in Harare on Tuesday night for the match as news from the Dynamos camp indicated the players were once again on strike demanding payment of outstanding salaries and bonuses.
At around lunchtime yesterday, PSL acting chief executive Kenny Ndebele confirmed on social network Facebook after receiving communication from Dynamos that: “Dynamos Football Club will not be able to fulfil the BancABC semi-final match scheduled for today (Wednesday) due to circumstances beyond our control.”
Referee of the day Ruzive Ruzive called off the match 30 minutes after the scheduled kick-off at 1500hrs after the Dynamos team failed to pitch up for the game.
From the outset, there was nothing to show that the match would take place as advertised by the organisers.
When a NewsDay crew arrived at the match venue at around 14.00 hours to cover the match, entrance gates were still locked.
There were also no representatives from the PSL or from the sponsors. A sizeable number of disappointed fans who had turned up in anticipation of the big clash were milling around the stadium’s main entrance.
The security officers who man the gates insisted that they had been ordered not to allow anyone into the stadium.
Journalists from different media houses, however, managed to sneak into the empty stadium where Highlanders players were warming up.
As the kickoff drew closer, Highlanders players changed into their playing gear, but the opposition team was nowhere in sight.After the stipulated 30 minutes, referee Ruzive had no option but to call off the match.
“I have called off the match because of the non-availability of the other team. As you can see Dynamos are not here, and it’s now 16.32 hours, so the match is off,” said Ruzive.
Ndebele said it was regrettable that the match had to be cancelled in that fashion.
“We got communication from Dynamos in the afternoon (yesterday) that they will not be able to fulfil the match but no decision has been made on the way forward,” said Ndebele later Wednesday.
“As you are aware, the issue also involves Zifa and I still need to consult the sponsors, PSL executive members and all the involved parties. We are also waiting for a report from the referees before we can come up with a decision.”
It will be interesting to see how the sponsors will react to the latest fiasco. Desmond Ali, the BancABC marketing manager, said his company will not make a rushed decision.
“We are guided by the PSL; we are hoping to meet them before Friday (tomorrow) to review what happened. We don’t want to make an emotional decision, these things happen in football but the teams need to get organised,” said Ali.
Highlanders secretary Andrew Tapela could not be reached last night on who had footed their transport and accommodation bill for the match that never was, and what action they would embark on next.