THE newly-branded Southern Region Soccer League (The Thunder League) kicks-off on March 21 with former Premier Soccer League (PSL) side Bantu Rovers hosting ZPC Hwange at Hartsfield Rugby Ground.
Zifa Southern Region chairperson Musa Mandaza yesterday confirmed the league kick-off date.
“The league starts on March 21 and our grounds committee will be carrying out inspections soon,” he said.
“We have had a few challenges with new club Magwegwe Pirates over affiliation. They have not showed any commitment and they did not attend the annual general meeting on Saturday.
“They have not paid anything and we are giving them this week. In the event that they fail to make any commitment, we will have no choice but to write to the province to say the team that you gave us is not ready and they should give us another one.”
He said the clubs had been given March 6 as the deadline for submission of their list of 25 players, five of which should be under 20 years, to ensure smooth licensing of the before the league starts.
In the event Magwegwe Pirates fail to affiliate, the Zifa Bulawayo Province Division Two League might have to second either Zim Leopards or Casmyn for promotion.
Zim Leopards finished the season last year on position three with 53 points while Casmyn ended the season on the fourth spot with 51 points.
Bulawayo City (formerly BCC Golden Stars) won the Division Two league championship with 55 points while Magwegwe Pirates came second on 54.
City, coached by former PSL gaffer Philani “Beefy” Ncube start their quest for elevation to the top-flight league against army side Indlovu Iyanyathela at Luveve Stadium.
Last year’s contenders for the crown, Technosphere take on newly-promoted Makomo in a Hwange derby. Makomo have paid the full $3 000 in affiliation fees.
Another new club Amagagasi, who have made a part-payment in affiliation fees, play their first match in the Victoria Falls derby against Trumus at Chinotimba Stadium in the resort town.
Black Boots will play away to Mpumalanga in Hwange for their first match while Ntabazinduna Prison, who made waves in Division One before faltering in the last games, will host Nust in their first game.
Bulawayo Chiefs (then Plumtree Chiefs), who won the title in 2013, but entered into a deal which saw Bantu Rovers play in the PSL, have been fixtured against Magwegwe Pirates at Raylton.
First Week March 21
Bulawayo City v Indlovu Iyanyathela (Luveve), Bulawayo Chiefs v Magwegwe Pirates (Raylton), Bantu Rovers v ZPC Hwange (Hartsfield), Amagagasi v Trumus (Chinotimba), Ntabazinduna Prison v Nust (Ntabazinduna), New West City v Hwange Juniors (White City), Mpumalanga v Black Boots (Hwange), Technosphere v Makomo (Hwange)