Harrison proposes calendar switch

HIGHLANDERS coach Mark Harrison believes that the delay in the start of the Premier Soccer League season due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown can be used to align the local season with calendars of most countries in Africa and Europe.

BY FORTUNE MBELE

It is unlikely that the domestic topflight season can run its full course even if the lockdown is lifted on May 4 considering clubs will need at least a month for pre-season training.

The situation would leave the league with about five or six months to squeeze in the 18-team league while some of the weeks will be dedicated to national team assignments.

Harrison said at the moment it would be difficult to predict how much time would be left to play football, but opined that an August to May season change would do.
The Englishman joined Highlanders at the beginning of the year and has thrown in a number of options that the local Premier Soccer League have if the situation returns to normal.

“We now have to ask the question: How are we going to play a full season? What will happen next? We don’t know when we will be allowed to regroup. We don’t know when football will be allowed to play again. When we kick off, are we going to have to play a full season? Do we now use the opportunity to re-align our season and go to an August kick-off like the rest of Africa and Europe? That is possible. Do you squeeze a football season in five or six months or you play a half-season one rounder. There are so many questions to be asked and so many answers to be given I guess,” Harrison said.

The start of the league was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Fifa has indicated that football cannot be a priority with the local football league stating that football might not be played this year after all.

Clubs suspended all football activities and gave players individual training programmes to be implemented at home but Harrison yesterday said it was not an easy task and saw himself having to start all over again.

“It is frustrating but there is nothing we can do. All the players are at home and everybody is trying to stay safe. Mentally I am preparing myself for another pre-season. Our fitness coach is trying to stay in touch with the players but again it is very difficult with priorities being you are trying to keep yourself safe.”

He said they have tried to use video conferencing but that has been in vain because of the prohibitive data costs.

“We attempted to use the Zoom App but unfortunately it requires Wi-Fi and not all the players have that at home and we abandoned it. In the end, it’s just a matter of having a little bit of trust in the players and hoping they are doing a little bit of training to keep fit but it isn’t any different from having a closed season right now?

It’s like having the off-season once more. All the work we did in pre-season is now wasted,” Harrison said.

Zimbabwe was on a 21-day lockdown in an effort to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic that was extended on Sunday by 14 days to May 3.

Three people have died so far with 25 testing positive as the country grapples with trying to contain the spread of the disease.

Do you have a coronavirus story? You can email us on: news@alphamedia.co.zw


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