Football Restart: What is the state of play in African Leagues?


Some football Leagues in Africa have been declared over, but Tanzania have forged ahead, returning to competitive football last weekend while clubs in Morocco and Egypt resumed training on Thursday ahead of the July 24 restart.

Most of Europe’s major Leagues are back in action while on the continent Botswana, Mauritius, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Angola and South Sudan all aborted the remainder of the fixtures after Covid-19 halted football activities across the world in March.

Morocco, this week, became the latest African country to make headway amidst the Covid-19 threat, when clubs in the north African country began phased training on Thursday.

The Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) announced that the remaining matches will be played between 24 July and 8 August.

The first 10 days of training, according to the federation, are being conducted in small groups. After that, players will be allowed to train together as they intensify their preparations in the final 20 days before the Botola Pro League resumes next month in empty stadiums.

FRMF president Fouzi Lekjaa said clubs will be subjected to medical tests before the resumption of the Botola League.

“We will be resuming the remaining fixtures of the Pro Championship (D1, D2) 12 August to 13 September 2020. Other amateur divisions that include regional Leagues, clubs in the national minor league, women’s football clubs, futsal start training for clubs in the Amateur division, all categories are set to start training on 15 July 2020, after observing the same health and sporting measures taken in the national Pro league with matches beginning on 15 August,” he said.

The Moroccan 2020/2021 football season is scheduled to start on 16 October.

In Egypt, former African champions Al Ahly’s players got back on the pitch during the week. The club said it had taken all the precautionary measures including the testing of players and technical staff members. The club confirmed that there were no positive cases, allowing the team to start training on Wednesday morning.

In Zimbabwe other sport codes considered less risky have been given the green light to resume by government while football is yet to be given the nod, with players still training individually at their homes. Zimbabwe’s football calendar traditionally runs between March and November.

Despite the lockdown having been eased with most sectors of the economy now operating, government is still to give timelines on when football is likely to resume.

In South Africa, PSL’s acting chief executive officer Mato Madlala said the competition will only resume as soon as the clubs complete all the required protocols. SAFA recently confirmed the government has green-lit PSL teams to return to training pitches, but the 16 PSL and 16 GladAfrica Championship clubs must do and submit Covid-19 tests as one of the key regulations that must be met. 

Ghana’s Presidential advisor Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, this week hinted that football could return in September.

“It is possible football could resume in September,” Asare told Fox FM.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) remains uncertain on the way forward although it claimed it was working hard on a solution to end the suspended 2019/20 season.

South Sudan decided against declaring a champion of the country’s top League when it cancelled all football activities. No clubs will be relegated or promoted.

In Kenya, Nairobi-based Gor Mahia were crowned champions of the Kenya Premier League after the 2019/20 season was called off. Gor Mahia, who led after 17 rounds of matches, will be Kenya’s sole representative in the 2020/21 CAF Champions League competition.

The 2019/20 Girabola, Angola’s topflight League, was also declared over late in May. The League, which was left with six games, ended with no champions, but only one team demoted for forfeiting fixtures.

Petro de Luanda were perched at the top with 54 points, followed by Primeiro De Agosto who were three points behind with a game in hand.

Former African champions TP Mazembe were crowned champions of DR Congo for the second consecutive season and a record-extending 18th time in May after the football season was cancelled.

Botswana’s log leaders Jwaneng Galaxy were handed their first League title after the football season was annulled after hopes of resuming were dashed by a medical committee’s assessment that it would cost more than R430 million to return to action.

The move means the bottom three clubs TAFIC, Miscellaneous and Molepolole City Stars have been relegated.

 RELATED STORY: Moroccan clubs return to training

By Mthokozisi Dube

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