From Eddie Chikamhi in BIZERTE, Tunisia
MEMORIES of last year’s Champions League meltdown in Tunisia still linger in the mind but Dynamos coach Callisto Pasuwa is bullish this time around and says his charges are better prepared to handle their Champions League test against Club Bizertin on Sunday.
The two clubs clash in the first leg of their first round tie at the October 15 Stadium in a match that gets underway at 4pm Zimbabwe time. DeMbare arrived in Tunisia yesterday afternoon following a tiresome 19-hour journey that took them through Zambia and Dubai.
The Glamour Boys were welcomed at the Tunis-Carthage International Airport, in the capital Tunis, by officials from the Tunisian Football Association before taking another hour’s trip, by road, to Bizerte where they will play their match. Bizerte is a resort town which is about 60km from the capital.
DeMbare are back in Tunisia where they met their fate the last time when they crashed to a 0-6 first leg defeat to giants Esperance which all but ended their dream in the second round of the 2012 campaign. It remains their worst humiliation on the continent.
But Pasuwa yesterday said they have learnt their lessons, the hard way, from the precious engagements with clubs from this side of the continent and wouldn’t want to repeat the same mistakes that cost them in the past.
Dynamos were happy with the welcome they got from their hosts but Pasuwa insisted to his boys that they should be mentally prepared for all possible situations.
DeMbare this week brought in a psychologist ahead of the trip to get the players ready for the worst possible conditions as African teams sometimes employ mind games and dirty tactics to frustrate their opponents.
Pasuwa said they lost to Esperance last year because they failed to handle the frustrations exerted on them by the referees. Pasuwa said the North African teams have a tendency giving visiting sides good treatment, upon arrival, but would always get preferential treatment from the referees.
“Everything is okay. Just like the previous time when we played Esperance everything was okay from the day of arrival and it was only until we got to the ground that things changed,” said Pasuwa.
“We received a good welcome but the main issue was the frustration that we suffered at the hands of the referees. We gave in to that and in the end we conceded lots of goals.
“Now we now know what to expect. It was a psychological thing and this time we are ready for them. We set down with the players and talked about it.
“Generally in football there are ups and downs but we have in our team players who were here and saw what happened. Hopefully they will be able to help the new guys who are coming here for the first time.”
DeMbare arrived in Bizerte around 4.30pm and were expected to conduct a light training just loosen their muscles. Pasuwa said the team will train twice today in the morning and in the afternoon. They will have their final session tomorrow at the match venue.
“It was a long and tiresome journey and I would need these guys to get a rest after such a trip. But the good thing is that we have two days to settle down and prepare ourselves for the match,” said Pasuwa.
Bizertin, who finished as runners-up last year, are currently sitting on fourth position in their league with traditional giants Esperance on pole position.
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