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PSL - Plan For Success, Adapt For Failure

Over the weekend we saw both Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United crash out of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup respectively, raising the likelihood of another trophyless season on the continent for South African teams.
At the end of the day, there were several factors involved as to why the two teams didn’t make it, such as lack of composure, poor officiating and blatant cheating. However, another factor that certainly didn’t help was the lack of help given to the teams by the PSL.
My issue is that the whole fixture chaos, that has been so apparent over the last two seasons, could have been rectified by simply thinking ahead, by planning for success and adapting for failure, rather than the other way around. 
Last season Orlando Pirates did fantastically well in Africa, making it all the way to the final of the CAF Champions League, though their domestic form consequently suffered due to the constant rearranging of fixtures and consequential backlog of games. 
I don’t think that it is any coincidence that, following their African heroics, Pirates have been unable to defend their league title. The players were undoubtedly running on empty tanks. The Buccaneers made it past TP Mazembe on May 5 last year, securing their place in the group stages of the tournament, and the draw for that stage was made less than 10 days later on May 14.
As of May 14, Pirates, and therefore the PSL, knew that they would have six CCL group games ahead of them in the coming months, but did the league take those games into account? No. Instead of them planning ahead in case Pirates made it to the final in November, they rearranged games every time the team took a step closer to the final. 
Due to the constant rearranging of Pirates’ games, they were on the back foot at the start of the 2013/14 campaign, and, because of the PSL’s lack of faith or forward thinking, the Buccaneers are being punished for winning the PSL title in 2011/12 and doing Mzansi proud on the continent.
Likewise with this year’s competition, the PSL knew that Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United would be taking part in the 2014 CCL and CAF Confederation Cup competitions, but once again they failed to cater for them.
Granted, the opponents of the South African sides were only drawn in December, a few months into the season, but surely at that point you do an overhaul of fixture changes in anticipation of their success, rather than expecting the two to crash out in the preliminary round. 
Both teams went on to make it through the first two rounds of the tournament, leaving a number of fixture changes in their wake. This disrupted not only their league efforts, but everyone who was due to play them as well. 
I am by no means saying that collating a fixture list is easy… I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. However, it is the job of the PSL and for that reason they should be doing it properly.
The fact that (even with all the postponements) a number of weeks go by without any teams playing PSL fixtures because it’s an MTN/Telkom/Nedbank week, is baffling. Why should the entire league suffer because brands don’t want to share? In England, for example, teams that have been knocked out of the FA Cup, play league games while the FA Cup continues, because it reduces the chances of creating a major backlog. Shouldn’t South African football do the same?
South Africa is all set to have four representatives in the 2015 CAF competitions - two in the CCL and two in the CCC. Can you imagine the carnage that will befall the PSL if, once again, there is a lack of forward planning?
Crann, Joe
Soccer Laduma journalist


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