Why the Blue Bulls couldn’t help Mamelodi Sundowns

Why the Blue Bulls couldn’t help Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns’ attempts to have the second leg of their CAF Champions League semifinal tie against Esperance moved to accommodate their congested schedule has fallen flat, SABC Sport can reveal.

The Brazilians suffered a 1-0 defeat away in Tunisia on Saturday night and will now host their rivals in the return match on Friday at Loftus Stadium – a date the club tried desperately to reschedule by at least a day.

Sundowns have a DStv Premiership match against Sekhukhune United at the same venue on Tuesday night and were trying to negotiate to allow more recovery time for the players by approaching the Blue Bulls, who own Loftus, for a “schedule switch”.

It’s understood Sundowns also contemplated taking the decisive encounter against Esperance to FNB Stadium, but the match will remain a Friday night fixture.

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In a statement following the public broadcaster’s enquiry, the Bulls explained why they were not able to help their Tshwane neighbours.

“I can confirm that we were in conversation with our partners at Mamelodi Sundowns who submitted the request. We then engaged with a number of our rugby stakeholders to try and accommodate the schedule switch because we understand the pressures of multi-tournament campaigns and the importance of recovery,” said spokesperson Lunga Kupiso.  

“Unfortunately, we have not been able to find a solution that works for all parties involved despite presenting a few options to the team at Sundowns, they advised they could not make use of them because of timing challenges amongst other reasons. As you can appreciate, moving or changing a match date and time requires a coordinated effort between the tournament, 14 international broadcasters well as other competing clubs.”

Kupiso said the Bulls did sympathise.

“We will always explore pathways to accommodate the different sporting schedules because we have the desire to continue to keep Loftus a multi-sporting code and entertainment venue, moreover, we want to keep nurturing the working relationship we have with our colleagues at Mamelodi Sundowns. However, this is a bit of a challenge when you look at the nature of the football calendar versus the rugby calendar, which is confirmed more than a year in advance, football is almost confirmed with a 14-day lead time on certain instances. I do commend how we both have managed to keep the conflicting days to a minimum but at times, these schedule clashes are unavoidable,” he explained.