11 February 2018

Zimbabwe: FC Platinum Cautious

Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum face a tough examination of their credentials in a bid to leave a mark in African football as they clash against Angolan side Clube Desportivo de Agosto in the preliminary round, first leg of the CAF Champions League at the 11 November Stadium today.

The match kicks off at 5pm Zimbabwean time.

For a team that has gained experience playing in the jungles of the African game, having participated on two occasions in their history, this is the time to show they have learned something in those adventures.

It's the third time FC Platinum will be playing in the continental tournament after they failed to make it to the group stages in their maiden appearance in 2012 after falling to Al-Merreikh of Sudan.

In 2015, under the guidance of Norman Mapeza, they played in the CAF Confederation Cup, but their performance wasn't any better.

Mapeza's men bowed out in the first round despite edging Young Africans of Tanzania 1-0 in the return leg played at Mandava Stadium.

Having suffered a 5-1 loss in Tanzania, a 1-0 win in Harare meant they exited the tournament on a 5-2 aggregate loss.

Surely, they should have learnt some lessons from the expeditions and today, Mapeza reckons a defeat means his campaign will start to unravel.

Tonderai Ndiraya suffered a defeat in his first adventure in the African safari here when his lads lost 2-1 to Recreativo do Libolo. That defeat marked the end of their interest in the tournament as they bowed out after being held to a goalless draw in Harare.

With vast experience in the game having also played for top Turkish side Galatasary during his day, Mapeza believes he has what it takes to go all the way.

Famed for their attacking flair, the former Warriors captain said he was likely to dispense with that passing game as he seeks to emerge with a positive result.

"We have to be very cautious. We will not go there just to attack, I am not a fool. I have been in this industry for a long time. I have seen those guys play in their local league, they are a very good side and we have to be very cautious," Mapeza said.

The Zvishavane-based side has often been found wanting in attack, but Mapeza has left out their two foreign players Shadreck Mayembe from Zambia and Cameroonian Albert Eonde, whom they signed during the off-season, as they are not yet match fit.

"We have signed a number of players. We brought in two foreigners, they are very good, quality players, but they have not got to the fitness levels that we want them to be. They have adjusted well to the way we play but their fitness levels have to improve," he said.

Should FC Platinum overcome Desportivo Agosto, they will meet the winner between Bidvest Wits of South Africa and Pamplemousse of Mauritius.

FC Platinum squad:

Wallace Magalane, Rapheal Muduviwa, Gift Bello, Kevin Moyo, Elvis Moyo, Winston Mhango, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Never Tigere, Rahman Kautsanzira, Ali Sadiki, Charles Sibanda, Mkhokheli Dube, Lawrence Mhlanga, Tatenda Mudehwe, Petros Mhari, Jameson Mukombwe, William Stima, Kevin Madzongwe, Brett Amidu, Gift Mbweti

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