As our country experiences our first lockdown we take the time to have a look at what stage in the season the SAFA 3rd division was suspended and its impact.
After round 17 Hanover Park are at the summit due to a better goal difference than Greenwood Athletic and newcomers Crystal Palace as all three teams have 31 points. Hot on their heels is Cape Town City with 30 points who also have the best goal difference in the league due to their high goal-scoring rate of 45 goals in 17 matches.
Other newcomers Woodlands, who have been doing well to keep in the top 5 are only 2 points (29) adrift from the top 3 while former log leaders Silver Spurs are in 6th spot with 28 points.
Between 8th and 1st place sees only a 5 point difference which offered an exciting scenario before the suspension of the league.
Matroosfontein who was at the same time last season in the top 3, are now facing relegation as they are rooted at the bottom with only 8 points and recording 2 wins this season. Cape Town United and Goal 50 are part of the threatened relegation mix and are in danger of the drop if they fail to record some positive results once the league resumes or IF it resumes.
Teams having a better record this season compared to last year are Bluegum United, Rebels, Bellstar and Cape Town City, with the latter in the top 5.
With the lockdown imposed having 21 days without any activity all clubs are in an unfamiliar and scary position with a vast number of challenges facing clubs.
Player fitness and readiness is probably the most concerning for technical staff as players might be keeping physically fit at home, but will need time to adapt to match fitness post the lockdown.
The ability to adapt to the time off will determine which teams will benefit the most if a return does happen. If the league does resume then the break may offer clubs like Matroosfontein, Cape Town United and Goal 50 an opportunity to recover as the lockdown might serve as a leveler as it is possible that other teams will struggle to continue the form they had before the break.
Another talking point is that the uncertainty of the restart to the league may cause some teams to lose key players. Although the 3rd Division is an amateur league, some teams do remunerate players and the fact that there are no matches taking place, may cause players not to be paid.
The reality of the matter is that the 21-day break may change the whole complexity of the current log positions especially considering the points difference between 15th place and 1st place is only 16 points at the moment compared to last season where it was 24 points at the same stage.
SAFA will assess the situation after the lockdown and decide the way forward and hopefully, by then we would’ve flattened the curve and have a chance of returning to the sports field but also bearing in mind that there is also the real possibility that leagues may not resume.