By Grace Chingoma
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza says only a foolish gaffer will send his team into an all-out attack against their Angolan opponents Clube Desportivo in Luanda in a CAF Champions League preliminary round, first leg tie on Sunday. He says his men do not have the experience of playing at this level of the game and will approach their assignment with a lot of caution.
However, the former Warriors coach, who addressed a media briefing in the capital just before the team’s departure yesterday morning, remained bullish that they have done enough to grind a result. The team was expected to arrive in Luanda last night.
“We are ready, our preparations have gone very well. We know the challenges we are going to face when we get to Angola. We are playing a big club, I think this is their eighth time participating in the Champions League, for us this is just the second time,’’ said Mapeza.
“So we are aware of the challenges we are facing. We have to be very cautious. I have read some other articles saying Mapeza said we are just going to attack. I am not a fool. I have been in this industry for some time. I know the challenges we are going to face in Angola.
“I had an opportunity to watch, I think – three or five times – the games they played in their local league, they are a very good side and we have to be very cautious. We will see as the game progresses how we approach the game, but we have to be very cautious.’’
Mapeza is happy that they will start their campaign away from home.
“We don’t have a choice, but I think it’s a blessing in disguise to start away from home. The most important thing is to go there and try grind a result so that by the time we come back home, we would be 70 percent there,” he said.
“What CAPS United did last season is good for the country, it is good for our football as a nation, but I don’t think it is barometer to gauge us where we need to go, we just need to go and do our best.
“The objective of the club is to reach the group stages. But it is not like we have to go there and try to surpass what CAPS United did. This is football, it differs each and every day. For us as a club, l think the main objective is to reach the group stages, so we just have to go and play to the best of our abilities and see how far we can go in this African safari.”
He concedes scoring has been a challenge.
“If you look at most clubs in the league, they have the same challenge (scoring), we have been working on that. In our first two games, we were looking at the fitness of our players, against Nkana it was more of tactical game. Of course, we couldn’t score goals, but I was really happy. I was pleased with the way we defended and attacked. We should build on that performance,’’ he said.
With two of his players already down with a flu bug, Mapeza is hoping that it will not get worse for his troops.
“From the information that I gathered, the place is humid and very hot and the two days we will be camped down there will help us. We can’t change the weather conditions, we just have to adjust when we get there and see how the conditions suit us,” he said.
Mapeza also explained his decision to overlook his foreign duo of Albert Eyonde and Shadreck Mayembe on the away trip.
“We have brought in two foreigners, but in terms of the fitness levels, I don’t think they are up to the standard we are looking for as technical team, not saying they are bad players,’’ he said.
“They are quality players, but they haven’t been training for quite some time, so I think they will need time to adjust in terms of the fitness levels, in terms of how we play. We have been talking to the players since we started our pre-season. I think everybody is excited and aware, but we just have to be at our best to come back with a result.’’ The Herald