by SAVIOUS KWINIKA
JOHANNESBURG – BAROKA captain, Elvis Chipezeze, says the side is not feeling any pressure of relegation from the Absa Premiership during the ongoing lockdown against the coronavirus (COVID-19).
The Zimbabwean international goalkeeper, who offered an insight into the training routine of the Limpopo-based side during the lockdown, said the restrictions had not deterred them in their quest to retain their topflight status.
“We are not under any relegation pressure at all,” the 30-year-old said in an interview with CAJ News.
“Our strategy is simply to take each game as it comes, and hopefully, we perform well to collect the maximum points,” Chipezeze added.
He outlined the club’s preparations for the resumption of the season at a date yet to be announced.
“All players have been working hard indoors since the lockdown proclamation by President Cyril Ramaphosa,” he said while endorsing the lockdown.
“Our team complied with the government decree because we know this is aimed at saving lives. Life always comes first above all other things,” he said.
Bakgaga ba ga Mphahlele are making the most of technology to ensure continuity.
“We have a WhatsApp group of fours in which we chat about daily training schedules. We discuss different sessions right from the tactical approach, updates on fitness as well as knowing who is well and not well due to injuries. I’m convinced each one of us is giving a hundred percent to the laid down internet training scheme,” Chipezeze said.
Baroka occupies 13th position in the 16-team league with 23 points from 24 matches. Their form has been better in the Nedbank Cup where they are to play Bloemfontein Celtic in the semifinals.
Like Celtic, perennial relegation strugglers Baroka have had their fair share of off-field controversy.
Coach Wedson Nyirenda quit in December alleging sabotage by players.
Dylan Kerr replaced the Zambian and Chipezeze has since been captain.
“Honestly, the appointment as captain came as a huge surprise. I never thought I would be the one to lead the side but I’m equally grateful because this position comes with great responsibilities. It is an honour to captain Baroka,” the skipper said.
He meanwhile urged football authorities in his home country (Zimbabwe) to put their house in order during the lockdown and fix its stadia.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) in February banned Zimbabwe from hosting international matches due to substandard venues.
“I hope this lockdown period will enable the country to fix issues of poor standard stadiums,” Chipezeze said.
“As players, we would love playing at home before our supporters, but if the environment prohibits, we will still play outside the country.”
Zimbabwe nearly suffered the embarrassment of playing their home match against African champions, Algeria, at Orlando Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, neighbouring South Africa.
“Playing in South Africa will not be a problem at all because most of the national team players are here in South Africa, so, this is home away from home,” Chipezeze nonetheless said.
A majority of Zimbabwean footballers play in the South Africa’s top league.
Those plying their trade in the ABSA Premier Soccer League (PSL) comprise national team vice captain Ovidy Karuru (Stellenbosch), Khama Billiat and Willard Katsande (Kaizer Chiefs), Chipezeze (Baroka FC), Kudakwashe Mahachi, Evans Rusike and Onismor Bhasera (SuperSport United), Clive Augusto, Gabriel Nyoni and Junior Zindoga (Maritzburg United).
Others are Terrence Dzvukamanja (Bidvest Wits), Knox Mtizwa, Divine Lunga, Danny Phiri and Edmore Sibanda (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Tapuwa Kapini and Tendai Ndoro (Highlands Park), Ronald Pfumbidzai (Bloemfontein Celtic), Elvis and Kevin Moyo (Chippa United), George Chigova, Charlton Mashumba and Walter Musona (Polokwane City), Butholezwe Ncube and Talent Chawapiwa (AmaZulu FC).
There are also multitudes of Zimbabweans living in the neighbouring country.
– CAJ News