By Sports Reporter
THE countdown to the start of the 2023 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) season has officially begun following the announcement of the kick-off date and release of the fixtures on Tuesday.
The 2023 PSL season is set to commence on March 18 with some exciting matches lined up as Zimbabwe’s topflight league seeks to woo back fans after a disappointing 2022 season.
In a statement on Tuesday, the league’s governing body, the PSL revealed that the league campaign will begin a week after the season-opening Castle Challenge Cup tie between FC Platinum and Bulawayo Chiefs at Mandava Stadium on March 11.
But newly promoted Gweru-based side Sheasham as well as army teams Black Rhinos and Cranborne Bullets will have to look for alternative venues as Ascot and Vengere stadiums have been condemned.
“The 2023 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League season is set to commence on Saturday 18 March 2023. Please be advised that Ascot Stadium and Vengere Stadium have failed to meet the minimum stadium requirements as set by the ZIFA Club Licensing First Instance Body. The stadia will not host PSL matches until the necessary requirements are met,” read a circular from the PSL.
The opening weekend of the new PSL season will see Harare giants Dynamos facing a tough away assignment when they head to one of the most difficult venues in the league-Colliery where they meet returnees Hwange.
CAPS United will be at home against one of the league title dark horses Manica Diamonds while champions FC Platinum face a tricky away encounter against big-spending newsboys Simba Bhora at Wadzanai Stadium.
In fact, Simba Bhora are set to face a tough start to life in the PSL, as they are expected to play against teams that finished in the top three last season in their opening fixtures.
After hosting champions FC Platinum on the opening day of the season, Simba Bhora will then travel to last season’s runners-up Chicken Inn at Luveve Stadium, before hosting Dynamos the following week.
Their match against DeMbare could be exciting given that Tonderai Ndiraya, who guided Dynamos to third place last season, is now in charge of Simba Bhora.
Highlanders are set to begin their campaign with a home date against ZPC Kariba before travelling to face Black Rhinos.
A potentially explosive clash between Highlanders and FC Platinum is on in week three.
The epic clash between perennial rivals Highlanders and Dynamos will take place in week five, while the big Harare derby between DeMbare and Makepekepe is on in week seven.