Zimbabwe: FC Platinum Set for Another Champs League Dance

FC Platinum are set for their sixth CAF Champions League appearance after ZIFA gave the side the nod to represent the nation in the next edition of Africa's premier inter-club competition.

The platinum miners have been given another opportunity to embark in the safari, on account of having been the last team to win the ticket, after domestic football failed to kick-off last year, due to Covid-19.

The Zvishavane side were the last team to be crowned domestic champions in 2019 for the third time on the trot.

ZIFA yesterday said CAF have set June 30 as the deadline for the submission of the participating teams, in the interclub competitions, including the second tier Confederation Cup.

Zimbabwe, however, will not be represented in the Confederation Cup, for the second year running.

"FC Platinum will represent Zimbabwe again in the competition," said Gwesela.

"In our case, CAF have said we can field the teams that participated in the previous edition since there was no top-flight football last season to determine the championship race.

"The same goes for the other nations that did not play competitive football last year, but for those that have managed to play, the rules have not changed.

"Unfortunately, we will not be represented in the Confederation Cup."

FC Platinum, who made their debut in Champions League in 2012, have also represented Zimbabwe in the last four successive campaigns.

After their maiden bow in 2021, they went on to play in the 2018, 2019 and 2020, 2020-2021 editions.

Due to the changes, in the CAF calendar, they have had to play four continental football campaigns, inside three years.

The 2021-2022 tournament dates are yet to be finalised. FC Platinum are expected to start from the preliminary round, towards the end of the year.

The platinum miners, however, are yet to make a big impression in the tournament.

They have reached the group stage twice in 2019 and 2020.

But, the previous outing ended in a nightmarish outing in Tanzania, where they imploded against Simba SC, in the decisive group stage qualifying encounter.

They carried a 1-0 advantage, going into the clash, following their first leg victory at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

But, they experienced the worst side of African football, in Dar es Salaam, before crumbling to a 4-0 defeat.

The Zimbabweans played the game under protest after five key players -- goalkeeper and skipper Petros Mhari, Lawrence Mhlanga, Silas Songani, Rainsome Pavari and Congolese forward Eli Ilunga -- were told they had returned positive Covid-19 results, just two hours before kick-off.

Three officials -- team manager Joseph Mususa, goalkeepers' trainer Tembo Chuma and medic Jeskia Chavurura -- were also reported to have tested positive for Covid-19.

The platinum miners were not happy the hosts held on to the results, of the Covid-19 tests, until the eleventh hour.

And, this meant coach, Norman Mapeza, had insufficient time to alter his game plan.

FC Platinum even suggested the results had been tampered with, following similar complaints by Nigerian outfit, Plateau United, who experienced the same predicament against Simba SC, in the preliminary round.

Most of the African countries are yet to determine their representatives, for the upcoming inter-club competitions.

However, South Africa and Zambia, are set to beat the June 30 deadline.

South Africa will be represented by league champions Mamelodi Sundowns and either AmaZulu or Kaizer Chiefs.

Should the Amakhosi win the Champions League, they will join Sundowns, in the tournament.

Zesco United, and another team to be determined in the coming weeks, are set to represent Zambia.

Zesco United won the Zambian Super League at the weekend.

They have Zimbabweans, Thabani Kamusoko and Tafadzwa Rusike, on their books.

Tanzania, where a number of Zimbabweans are playing, are also on course to complete their season.

Kenya will be represented by the team that will be at the top of the Premier League, as of June 30, which is the CAF deadline for member associations to submit representatives, for the interclub competitions.

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