Dillon Sheppard - Wits preparing for August return for Absa Premiership
The league has been on pause since mid-March due to the continued lockdown, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but government has approved a return to training and matches, behind closed doors.
JOHANNESBURG - Bidvest Wits assistant coach Dillon Sheppard says the club is preparing for a return to Absa Premiership action in August.
The league has been on pause since mid-March due to the continued lockdown, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the government has approved a return to training and matches, behind closed doors.
Speaking to Eyewitness News about when fans can expect games to resume, Sheppard said the club was expecting them to restart next month.
“I think the league has been given until the end of August to complete,” he said. “So the time frame we are looking to restart and end the season is going to be really, really short. At Bidvest, we have a minimum of ten games.
"We have just come into the beginning of July, there’s a possibility we’ll start playing in the next two weeks and if you look at the players, who’ve been off for three months, and then coming back, they are never going to be prepared for 90 minutes.”
With the club expecting games to resume in less than a month, Sheppard believes teams with bigger squads will be able to handle the rigorous schedule.
“Bigger teams with bigger squads are going to benefit far more than the teams like us who have a really small squad. To regulate game time, to have them ready for 90 minutes of football, is impossible in the time frame that we have. We’ve never had a long spell of three months without football.”
With Wits ceasing to exist at the end of the current season after selling their top-flight status to Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila F.C, Sheppard said the players would be using the last few games to play for pride.
“We can only control what we can control and that is the ten games that are in front of us,” he revealed. “We can’t be worrying about what is going to happen with our future because, let's be honest, I’ve played the game, one minute you can have a contract and the next day you are told you are surplus to requirements.
"These are the kinds of things that happen in our football, so the guys are really pumped up to get back on the field and give it a last shot.”
Wits defender Lorenzo Gordinho admitted that a return to action gave players a chance to earn a chance to stay at the club in its new form.
“We want to leave it on a good foot and play our best, so we feel we can have the best leg to stand on going into negotiations with the new owners and if you want to move clubs.”