Johannesburg, South Africa – Football leagues around the world are getting back in action, though some are still contemplating how to finish their seasons, while others have already called time on the 2019/20 campaign.
Here is an updated round-up of the situation in each of the COSAFA member associations as football waits patiently for a return when it is safe to do so.
The 2019/20 Girabola has been cancelled, but the Angola government has announced that clubs may resume contact training from June 27, which suggests the new 2020/21 campaign could get under way in its traditional August slot.
Botswana has made the decision to end their domestic league and declared Jwaneng Galaxy champions for the first time. The decision was taken by a meeting of the Botswana Football Association and comes with 10 rounds still left to play in the season. Galaxy were one point ahead of Opara United and defending champions Township Rollers at the suspension of the league because of the novel coronavirus crisis in March. TAFIC, Molepolole City Stars and Miscellaneous were relegated to the First Division.
A decision on whether to call time on the Championship or play on has yet to be taken, with the ministry of sport in discussions with the country’s football federation. The decision is expected imminently.
Eswatini are still hoping to complete their season and have set up a committee to explore how this can be done so that they may present their plan to government. Various media reports that the season had been cancelled have been refuted.
Lesotho is expected to phase football back in over the coming weeks, though no date has yet been set for a resumption. The plan to resume play would include screening and testing of players and officials. There are eight rounds left in the top division.
The Malagasy Premier League will resume matches when it is safe to do so, though latest plans suggest an August return for the competition. That is very much dependent on what lockdown restrictions are at the time though. Just three points separate top side CNaPS Sport and fourth-placed Ajesaia after 15 rounds of the 22-game season.
Malawi is continuing to build their road-map back to play and has made a draft presentation to government to this effect. They are also meeting with the country’s health officials and there is optimism that football can resume in the near future.
Mauritius were the first country in Africa to declare their season cancelled, ending the campaign five games early with GRSE Wanderers and Bolton City sitting joint top of the table. No champions were declared. Lockdown restrictions in the country have eased and the hope is that football may return soon.
The new 2020 season has yet to get under way in Mozambique but the hope is that matches will be able to be played this year. Clubs in the Macombola are pushing for an August start, which would see the league finish in May. This would present a change for Mozambique, which has previously had its season in a single calendar year.
The Namibia Premier League was suspended in October 2019 by the Namibia Football Association Normalisation Committee that has been tasked by FIFA to run football in the country. The suspension was due to be discussed at an Exco meeting in April, but that was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Seychelles Football Federation have confirmed that the league and cup will continue in July, though three teams have decided they will not continue with the 2019-20 season, including top side St Michel.
The South African Football Association is working with the Premier Soccer League on a return to play protocol to present to government for approval. That process is on-going and there is hope the 2019-20 season will be completed. South Africa has been the hardest hit country in Africa in terms of COVID-19.
The Football Association of Zambia intends to finish both the league season and the knockout cup, though a return date for football has yet to be set. The Super League is shaping up for a thrilling finish with just six points separating the top six teams, and most sides having 10 games remaining.
The league season in Zimbabwe had not started prior to the suspension of football activities, and the COVID-19 pandemic could see a seasonal shift in the country to an August-May campaign. No date has yet been set for the start of the new campaign, but there is the target of an August start.