By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
FC Platinum coach, Norman Mapeza, faces a Herculean task in the Total Caf Champions League first round first-leg tie against Congo Brazzaville side Otoho next Friday as the Central Africans have not lost a home game in all competitions since January 2017.
Otoho, participating only for the first time in the Champions League, stunned Angolan giants Agosto 2-0 at Stade Omnisport Marien Ngouabi d’Owando on Wednesday afternoon to go through on the away goals rule, having lost 2-4 in Luanda.
The Congolese side has played 68 games since January 22, 2017, winning 51, losing seven and drawing 10. All their losses have been on the road.
Agosto were FC Platinum’s opponents in the same competition earlier this year and they beat the Zvishavane-based side 5-1 on aggregate, but came unstuck against the Congolese on Wednesday.
Mapeza’s charges dispatched Indian Ocean islanders CNaps 1-0 at Mandava Stadium to sail through 2-1 on aggregate and set up a date against Otoho. The winner over the two-legged encounters will qualify for the group stage.
Despite being seemingly invincible at home, Otoho are very fragile on the road and in their maiden participation in the Caf Champions League this year, they beat Algerian giants MC Alger 2-0 at home on February 11 in the first leg, but were annihilated 9-0 by the Algerians in the second leg 10 days later.
So Mapeza’s game plan will likely be to avoid defeat and with a bit of luck grind a positive result before finishing them off at home.
Besides fighting to stop the home invincibility of the Congolese, Mapeza’s boys will have to brace themselves for high temperature levels in Congo Brazzaville .
There are indications that FC Platinum might fly out to Congo Brazzaville three or four days before the encounter next Friday. The Chronicle