By Mukudzei Chingwere
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza’s quest to lead his miners to a place among the heavyweights of African football comes under severe scrutiny this afternoon in the second leg of the preliminary round CAF Champions League tie against Angolan champions, Clube Desportivo Primero De Agosto, at Mandava.
The Zimbabwean champions fell 0-3 in the first leg last week in Angola and now have their work cut out ahead of the return leg at their fortress. The Zvishavane miners recently took the fight to the CAF boardroom, protesting that their opponent took to the field of play without producing their passports.
But after CAF dismissed their protest, all eyes are now firmly on Mapeza and his charges. The former Warriors mentor has been talking tough ahead of the duel, insisting his side have what it takes to stage a major upset.
But their goalscoring return does not inspire confidence. Last year, FC Platinum only scored three goals, without reply, once when they humbled ZPC Kariba 3-0 at Mandava on November 4.
The other time they scored three without reply in the league was way back on May 21, 2016, when they dispatched Border Strikers 3-0 at Mandava. Club captain, Petros Mhari, says they can do it.
“We can also win 3-0 at our home ground just like what they did when we played them in Angola, this time we will also be playing at our home ground,” said Mhari. From the team that lost in Angola, Mapeza is likely to ring three changes with seasoned defender Gift Bello likely to take the place of Lawrence Mhlanga.
Former Highlanders star Rahman Kutsanzira has failed to recover from a knock he sustained in Luanda and speedy winger Marshall Mudehwe is set to take his place.
Offensive midfielder Never Tigere, who starred in pre-season, but struggled in the reverse fixture, is likely to make way for defensive midfielder Kelvin Madzongwe.
FC Platinum assistant coach Patrick Mandizha hinted they were targeting a performance, and result, which will see them ending the match with their heads held high.
“We are looking for a positive result at home. Most of the mistakes we made in the first leg centred on poor decision-making and we have been working on that,” said Mandizha.
“The morale in the camp is high and the boys are raring to go, only Rahman is not available, but other players will be available for selection.’’
The Angolan champions are taking the match seriously despite what appears to be a healthy cushion. They have been camped in Zimbabwe for the past week, training at the National Sports Stadium in Harare, before they came to Zvishavane on Monday to fine-tune their preparations.
“We played 90 minutes in the first leg and now we will play the other 90 minutes here so the match is not yet over. FC Platinum are a good team which play good football and we are aware that it is going to be a tough match. Our target is to go as far as we can in the competition, but for now we are targeting this match,” said assistant coach Ivo Traca.
Wallace Magalane, Raphael Mudhuviwa, Elvis Moyo, Kelvin Moyo, Gift Bello, Winston Mhango, Kelvin Madzongwe, Marshall Mudehwe, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Ali Sadiki, Mkhokheli Dube