The postponement of the Sasol League National Playoffs this week has shot down the spirit in the CR Vasco da Gama team and severely disrupted their December holiday plans as they strive to remain focused.
As a result, the team is planning to continue with their training sessions throughout the festive season to maintain their peak fitness levels to remain ready and in the best shape whenever the competitions resumes.
On Sunday the South African Football Association (SAFA) and sponsors Sasol announced that the event has been adjourned until further notice in the wake of rising covid-19 cases across the country. The national play-offs, pitting all nine provincial champions, were scheduled to take place in Durban this week to determine the two teams that will be promoted to the Hollywoodbets Super League next season.
‘’The Omicron variant cases are on the rise and, as the Association, we prioritize the health of our athletes and other stakeholders. This is something we cannot afford to risk, hence the decision to postpone the games,’’ said SAFA chief medical officer, Dr Thulani Ngwenya, in a statement.
He said SAFA and Sasol will find a suitable date for the playoffs when the variant is under control. ‘’Our decision on when to resume the playoffs will be dictated by a conducive environment and when the variant is under control. As things stand, the situation does not allow us to continue with the games as we will be putting all those involved, including players, officials and those running the competition, at risk. As a responsible organisation we cannot do that,’’ said Dr Ngwenya.
Although the decision is understandable and accetable, it has threw a spanner in the works of Vasco, who are in top form, having won a gruelling Sasol League Western Cape title and a Coke Cup trophy this season. “The momentum of the team has dropped a bit because the excitement was there and we were still on a high,” noted Vasco captain Jamie Witbooi.
“The postponement of the playoffs has slightly put the team off, but it gave us extra time to work on certain aspects where we were lacking. On the one hand it’s a good thing, on the other it’s a bad thing because we don’t know until when they have been postponed. It might be in January, when in January, we don’t know.”
Witbooi said another adverse side of the adjournment of the event was that the team will lack game time as they doubt if there is any team who will give them friendly games over this period. “The momentum is a bit down, but we are trying to focus on the role ahead to be successful and try to qualify for the Hollywoodbets Super League.”