By Ellina Mhlanga
FC Platinum head coach Hendrik Pieter De Jongh concedes he has been left in a tight spot with uncertainty surrounding the kick-off date for the 2020-21 CAF Champions League, combined with an indefinite suspension of the local Premiership football.
The three-time Zimbabwe football kings were supposed to begin the 2020-21 CAF Champions League campaign at the beginning of this month but international football is currently frozen on the continent due to the Covid-19 crisis.
De Jongh, who joined FC Platinum in January, was roped in to help the side improve their fortunes in the continental games. But he is also worried that Zimbabwe have no hope of playing the domestic game this year while other African nations have made stride towards resumption.
The Dutchman feels the unhealthy situation may not afford his boys fair competition.
“Champions League may start not earlier than mid-November. For us as FC Platinum it’s not a good situation because other teams are playing league games already. We have no game-time and for a long time we did not train on the training ground.
“It is both mental and physical aspects and of course the vision on the way how we want to play. Technical and tactical training is also very important and we have not trained as a team for a very long time,” said De Jongh.
Although some countries have resumed their leagues, others like Zambia have encountered some difficulties that saw authorities prematurely stopping the competition due to the raging coronavirus pandemic.
Locally, the return of football for the 2020 season remains in doubt as Covid-19 cases continue to surge.
De Jongh said while it is frustrating to be away from his passion which is football, the top priority at the moment is safety and the club has made it possible to cope during this difficult period.
“I am a professional football coach, it is my job. Football is my biggest passion and my life. It is frustrating but the health and safety of everyone matters at this moment. It is the most important thing and that is the number one priority.
“FC Platinum is professional in everything, the club is very good with its players and the staff. Players train at home and give an update every week to the staff about their home training,” said De Jongh.
The Dutch coach is confident the PSL will make the right decision regarding the ongoing situation.
“PSL is a very professional organisation that everybody knows which decisions they are mostly likely to make. My personal opinion is that the league can start next year due to the rise in coronavirus cases. I would have wanted it to start yesterday because football is my biggest passion and my life and my job.
“It’s only that the health of everyone matters at this point in time.”
De Jongh has also had to cope with being away from his family which he says it’s not easy considering the prevailing situation.
“It’s not easy, staying alone in another country without your family. I did a lot of training for myself. I am in top shape and I am thinking to even put myself in the lineup once football bounces back.
I did a lot of research on internet and I follow football on the television,” De Jongh said.
FC Platinum have done well on the local scene but found the going tough in the inter-club competition. By bringing in the Dutch coach, they are hoping he can assist them navigate their way to a better performance. The Herald