By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN football giants Highlanders and CAPS United have become the latest Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clubs have stopped training for the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic and Tuesday, the two teams informed their players to stay at home until further notice.
The move comes after Zimbabwe recorded its first death from the coronavirus. Zororo Makamba, 30, died Monday afternoon at the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare.
The coronavirus has already resulted in the postponement of the 2020 season kickoff, which was due to kick off early this month but has been postponed indefinitely after President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared the disease a national disaster.
Highlanders chairman, Kenneth Mhlophe, said the Bulawayo giants have officially stopped training and informed players to stay at home as a precautionary measure to ensure the safety of the players and club officials.
“Further to advice from the club medical doctor and the newly announced measures by the President of Zimbabwe regarding precautionary procedures to be followed by all citizens in the wake of the COVID-19, Highlanders Football Club has shelved all group training activities with immediate effect until further notice,” Mhlophe said in a statement.
“All players and staff have been advised to adhere to strict social distancing protocols. We encourage our players and the staff to exercise the highest level of self-discipline by avoiding public gatherings and unnecessary movements during this difficult time,” he said.
Caps United also announced Tuesday that players and technical officials have been told to stay at home after the club resolved to postpone its preseason training programme indefinitely
“Amid crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic that has penetrated into the country, the management team of CAPS United FC has, with immediate effect, decided to temporarily suspend all training programmes as we join the rest of the world in trying to avoid further spread of the virus,” CAPS United administrator Morton Dodzo said.
“Resumption of all activities will be announced as and when the situation normalises. We argue playing staff, non-playing staff and stakeholders to adhere to health and safety measures as prescribed by the relevant authorities,” he said.
Bulawayo Chiefs on Monday became the first topflight club to suspend their training as a precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
However it is still business as usual at some other Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) such as Dynamos and Ngezi Platinum, who were still training Tuesday.
Dynamos had a practice match against Zifa Northern Region side Simba Bhora behind closed doors at Hellenic Sports Club last Saturday; a contest DeMbare won 1-0.
Zimbabwean champions, FC Platinum have split their players into three groups as part of a comprehensive response aimed at reducing the risk of infection at the club.
“The club has already initiated a three-shift training programme where players are divided into three fixed groups training at different times of the day,” FC Platinum said in a statement.
“This approach allows nine players at any given time on the field thereby reducing the risk through manageable squads. This goes further down to other measures like reducing contact and tailgating (discussions) to advance awareness on Covid-19. This is not all there is to the fight against Covid-19 but it definitely is something better than folding hands towards prevention of the spread of the coronavirus,’’ concluded the FC Platinum statement.