NELSON Mandela Bay football teams thatwill be campaigning in the South African Football Association (Safa) Eastern Cape Second Division league are frustrated by the postponement of the new season's kickoff date.
The semi-professional league was scheduled to start last weekend after a four-month break but the Safa head office announced that the country's third-ranked football contest would begin only on November 2.
A draft fixture list was released last week and a meeting was called for the teams to approve it, but a final list will only be released once it has been approved.
The league normally starts a new season in September, and this is the longest break the teams have had since the inception of the division.
Safa's national competition officer Michael Mofokeng said the delay was caused by some teams' failure to approve the draft fixtures.
"There are some provinces that had technical issues with the draft fixture list but we are dealing with the problems because we need to finalise the list and release a final, approved list to the public.
"The Eastern Cape clubs have already approved their list but all Safa Second Division clubs in all nine provinces countrywide will start their league matches on the same day."
The Bay region has three clubs, Morning Stars (Zwide), Highbury (northern areas) and Real City (Motherwell) that will be competing in the provincial Second Division, with the hope of gaining promotion to the National First Division next season.
Highbury coach Garth Dickinson said the delay had undermined the spirit of the teams.
"We are frustrated by the delays because we are trying our best to keep the players physically fit and ready for our opening match, for which we don't know the exact kickoff date.
"The players are getting tired and injured in our friendly games we hold to keep them busy, because this is the longest break before the start of a new season we have ever had since we started playing in this competition."
Dickinson said the team would continue playing friendly matches against local teams.
Morning Stars mentor Siyabulela Isaac said all Safa's national professional leagues had started their programmes, and the Second Division league was always the last to start the new season.
"Our pre-season preparations are on track and I'm pleased with the progress of the players.
"It is disappointing to be informed about the delays every week when we are about to start competitive soccer, but there is nothing we can do because we don't know their [Safa's] internal problems," Isaac said.
They would continue to keep their players motivated at training sessions and would continue to play friendly matches until the final fixture list was released.
Real City coach Bonke Namba had a slightly different view about the hold-up. He said the delays with the league's fixture list had given him an opportunity to work hard with his players to build the strength of the team. "This will be a new league for us, hence we have not panicked over the delays because we are still finalising some of the finer details within the team.
"I am concerned with the postponement of the dates, but we'll have to sit and wait until a final date has been confirmed with the team."