Sundowns stunned after fixture postponement refused but granted to title rivals Pirates
Mamelodi Sundowns have been refused a postponement of next Tuesday’s Absa Premiership game against Maritzburg United and must now change their travel plans for their last Caf Champions League clash against Wydad Casablanca in Morocco.
But their title rivals Orlando Pirates have been given permission to move their game next midweek against Black Leopards in a decision by the Premier Soccer League that will raise questions about one team being favoured over the other.
But the League officials say Maritzburg refused to change the game and Sundowns have also not accepted an alternate date at the end of the month – and they have no alternative‚ even though they might be seen as favouring one of the title challengers over the other.
“As you will appreciate for last couple of months‚ we have been trying to accommodate clubs playing in the African Champions League‚ striving to strike a balance in assisting them to play in the continental club competition and also fulfill domestic assignments‚” said the League’s spokesperson Luxolo September on Wednesday.
“It is not always an easy balance. Often it has meant making adjustments which affect other clubs.
“We must also look at what is in the interests of the clubs‚ the League and the schedule and keeping our eye fixed on finishing the season as scheduled.
“We have had to take all into consideration in making a difficult decision‚” he added.
Sundowns are now forced to re-book expensive tickets to north Africa and will have much less time to prepare for their last group game on Saturday March 16.
They had asked several weeks ago for a postponement of Tuesday’s fixture against Maritzburg at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg so that they could fly on Sunday to Morocco and have plenty of time to get ready for a tough last group game against Wydad.
But this was refused‚ the PSL said in a letter to Sundowns on Tuesday.
But Pirates match against Leopards‚ scheduled for next Wednesday‚ is off.
Pirates also play their last group match in the Champions League away on Saturday‚ March 16‚ in Conakry against Horoya of Guinea.
Sundowns officials are aghast that the PSL turned down their request to postpone their next game and asking questions about why one team is being allowed to change but not the other.
Pirates’ game is now being played on Friday‚ March 29 at the Orlando Stadium - the same weekend as the Nedbank Cup quarter-final.
The League told Sundowns they can move the Maritzburg match to the same date‚ but Sundowns allegedly refused because the first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals is the next weekend.