Status of COSAFA country leagues amid COVID-19

Southern African nations are making some tough decisions about how and when to resume football in their country, and what is clear is that there is no easy answer for any of them.

Here is an updated round-up of the situation in each of the COSAFA member associations.

The 2019/20 Girabola was cancelled with five rounds to play, but the Angola Football Federation have targeted an October start for the 2020/21 season. They have, however, twice had to postpone a draw for the new season due to a spike in cases in the country.

Botswana made the decision to end their domestic league and declared Jwaneng Galaxy champions for the first time. The decision came with 10 rounds still left to play in the season. The new campaign will start as soon as conditions in the country allow.

The season has been on hold since March, but the Comoros Football Federation has made submissions to government on how it can resume and are awaiting feedback. No target date has been set yet.

Eswatini are still hoping to complete their season and have developed a detailed plan to do this safely, but have yet to get football back on the pitch. It is estimated that from start to the finish the process to complete the season will take 14-16 weeks

The Lesotho Football Association have officially cancelled the 2019/20 season with eight rounds left in the top division. Bantu FC were declared champions, while there was no relegation, with the top division expanded from 14 to 16 teams for the 2020/21 campaign.

The Malagasy Premier League will resume matches when it is safe to do so. 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 presentations to government to this effect. They are also meeting with the country’s health officials and clubs to discuss plans and get feedback. There is the hope that action can restart soon.

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. There is the hope that the 2020/21 campaign can start in November.

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. Local authorities have targeted a September start, though they must still get the green light from government.

The Namibia Premier League has been expelled as a member of the Namibia Football Association, with the latter now engaging clubs to set up a new top-flight division in the country.

The Seychelles Football Federation re-started football activities on July 2 and the season is on-going. They were the first in the region to get games back underway.

The South African Football Association will oversee a plan that will have football return on August 8, and the 2019/20 season completed by around mid-September. This will be done in a bio-bubble environment and includes the top two divisions in the country.

The Zambia Super League resumed on July 18 and will take a few months to complete. It has not been all smooth sailing for the Football Association of Zambia, with a number of positive COVID-19 cases at clubs.

The league season had not started prior to the suspension of football activities. The Zimbabwe Football Association’s competitions and medical committees, together with the Premier Soccer League (PSL), have made proposals on modalities of a safe return of football and await government approval.