Home » Sports » As Bad As It Can Get . . . Torn Ascot Nets Make a Mockery of the PSL

THE domestic Premiership turned into a joke at the weekend after an embarrassing incident — shown across large parts of Africa on SuperSport — where torn nets were used for a high-profile NetOne OneWallet quarter-final tie at Ascot in Gweru.

Viewers across the continent watched, some in disbelief, as spot-kicks, taken by the Highlanders and How Mine players in a penalty shoot-out, kept flying past the torn nets in what was a sickening aert for the local Premiership.

On a day when Bosso coach Kelvin Kaindu questioned the PSL management’s decision to bring the game between the two rivals to Ascot, whose bumpy pitch was a mockery to everything that the PSL is supposed to represent, the torn nets covering one of the goal posts at the stadium turned this top-flight contest into a joke.

In the age of a vibrant social media community, the issue of the worn-out nets at Ascot turned into a big story for scores of Zimbabweans watching the match from different locations across the continent, with Calvin Nyazema, who runs a Division Two side in this country, calling it a huge embarrassment for our football.

“OneWallet Cup is a sponsored tournament and Bosso vs How Mine is on SuperSport, a pair of nets cost US$150, at most, and we go ahead to play such a big game at a stadium with worn-out nets guarding the goals, unbelievable,” said Nyazema.

“Some of these things, I don’t think it’s a question of resources that we don’t have but people just failing to do things that are right and we are embarrassing ourselves in the process.” Interestingly, the management at Alex Sports Club in the capital, who have five football pitches at their club, have secured nets for all their goalposts while the Gweru City Council, who run a stadium that hosts Premiership matches, cannot do that for just one ground.

Most of the teams that use Alex Sports Club are either social or Division Two sides.

The PSL management hit out at the Gweru City Council yesterday, conceding that the top-flight body was left an embarrassed and exposed lot because of the use of torn nets at Ascot on Saturday.

PSL chairman, Twine Phiri, was one of the spectators at Ascot.

In a match televised live across Africa on SuperSport 9, the elite game portrayed an amateurish outlook as Highlanders and How Mine faced the ignominy of having to retrieve the ball from the terraces as it went through large holes in the torn nets during their penalty shoot-out lottery.

The teams had been deadlocked during regulation time with Bosso fighting from behind to force a 1-1 draw in regulation time.

But it was during the shoot-out that some of the fundamental flaws that continue to peg back Zimbabwean football were exposed.

PSL chief executive Kenny Ndebele yesterday admitted that they had been embarrassed by the picture that was given to the world about the state of the national game.

Ndebele blamed the Gweru city fathers insisting that the PSL had, at the start of the year, written to all municipalities about the need to spruce up the venues that had been earmarked for use by the Premiership.

The PSL chief executive said they had also asked the municipalities to replace the steel goalposts with aluminium or plastic posts in line with the new fifa and caf requirements but had been disappointed to note that such cities like Gweru were still lagging behind and even failing to replace a pair of nets that costs less than US$200.

“We are worried and hugely disappointed with what we witnessed at Ascot. At the start of the season, after our inspection teams had gone around certifying the grounds that were to be used, we sent a letter to each of the local government authorities outlining those things that needed to be attended to.

“Given that Chapungu use Ascot for their home games, you can see that this is just down to neglect of the stadium on the part of Gweru City and we have written to them to register our displeasure because there is no seriousness on their part.

“While we appreciate that local authorities, just like most companies, are going through tough times, we know that it does not cost much to replace torn set of nets with new ones and following the incidents at Ascot, we will be forced as PSL to send another team of inspectors to all the venues to check on compliance,” Ndebele said.

Ndebele noted with concern that it would be the PSL, and not the local authorities, who would take the blame should any of the venues staging their games be found in bad shape.

“Of course, anything that goes bad is blamed on the tournament organisers. Although the sponsors had taken the right initiative to spread the games across the country, we may be forced to streamline the number of stadiums and select just a few that will meet our requirements and the club licensing requirements.”

Ndebele said they would also discuss the Ascot debacle with the OneWallet Cup sponsors — NetOne — when they review all the quarter-final matches including the threat by Premiership champions Dynamos to boycott their game against CAPS United.

DeMbare eventually took to the battlefield and emerged 1-0 winners following a late Rodreck Mutuma second half strike but not before their chairman Kenny Mubaiwa, had threatened to withdraw his team arguing that they were still owed US$10 00 from their participation in an earlier NetOne sponsored tournament. But it is the embarrassing scenes at Ascot which also drew the ire of Kaindu, who felt the tournament’s organisers should have done a due diligence before arranging to stage the Bulawayo OneWallet derby in Gweru. “In my opinion the tournament organisers would have come up with a better venue, it was disappointing that a match of this magnitude was played in such conditions.

“The only good thing was that there was no controversy in the penalty shoot-out because it could have caused big problems if any of the teams had disputed the penalties and you are using torn nets.

“It was sad to see the ball go through the nets and out and I felt it exposed us as a country and as a league because many people were watching that match on SuperSport in and outside the country and that is certainly note the best way to aertise your football,” Kaindu said.

Many neutrals were also left to spare a thought for such lower leagues like Division One and Division Two and the schools which are the breeding grounds for talent but whose matches do not come under television scrutiny.

There are genuine concerns that matches in those leagues are being played using worn-out nets, if at all they are using any nets.

It also remains a worrying trend that local football remains trapped in an amateurish approach to the game and still struggling to fulfil the basics despite the nation’s aspirations to stage major international events like the African Cup of Nations and the World Cup.

Source : The Herald