By Mukudzei Chingwere
Talismanic FC Platinum midfielder Rodwell Chinyengetere has vowed to go an extra mile and lead the Zimbabwean side to the group stages of the 2018-19 CAF Champions League in his very last match for the club at Mandava this afternoon before leaving to join South African Premiership side for Baroka FC.
Zimbabwe’s representatives in the African Safari play against Congolese side AS Otoho in the Champions League first round, second leg tie today needing an aggregate victory to progress to the group stages of Africa’s premier club competition for the first time in their history.
Pure Platinum Play are a safer bet to progress at the expense of the Congolese outfit after grinding out a 1-1 draw on the road last weekend, making it a simple task of finishing off the tournament’s minnows on home soil.
Chinyegetere joined FC Platinum at the end 2015 and many believed he was past his prime after earlier suffering a career-threatening injury which halted his otherwise promising career.
However, the 30-year-old has transformed himself to become one of the best players in the Zimbabwean league and went on to win the Castle
Lager Soccer Star of the Year award twice on the bounce in 2017 and 2018.
The South African Premiership-bound attacker said he owes his success to FC Platinum and feels indebted to help them achieve their long-cherished dream of playing among the best on the continent.
In as much as football is a team sport, Chinyegetere said he is supremely self-assured his teammates will do their best this afternoon, but personally he promised to go an extra mile.
“FC Platinum have given me a chance to play at the very top and return to my best form, so I feel a bit indebted to them. I know I cannot fully repay them, but I want to help them achieve the club’s objective (of reaching the mini-league stage of the Champions League).
“FC Platinum are a very good club and I will be happy to leave them where they belong, that is at the top of African football.
“We have been working very hard as a team and I am convinced everyone who will get the opportunity to play will do his best. I understand this is a team sport, but for myself I will do everything in my capacity to help the team.
“It is hard to leave FC Platinum, but if I leave them in the group stages, I will be very happy,” said Chinyengetere.
Coach Norman Mapeza has insisted the job is far from being done and is likely to go with a balanced team both defensively and offensively in today’s match.
“It is not yet over, the first half was played in Congo and the second is here, we still need a result here. If the game finishes at 0-0, we will qualify, but that is not guaranteed, they can get a goal in the dying minutes.
“As coaches, we do not want to talk much about what we will do, we know what we want to achieve on Saturday (today) and I will keep it to myself and the team,” he said addressing his routine weekly media briefing.
Captain Petros Mhari is likely to guard the goal again after impressing on the continent as he has conceded just two goals in three games.
The Congolese prefer attacking from the wings, pumping in dangerous crosses in the box and Mapeza is likely to deploy Lawrence Mhlanga at the heart of his defence and will be supported by William Stima, who scored in the reverse leg.
Stima is preferred for his acceleration to chase down opponents and the duo of Elvis Moyo and Raphael Muduviwa will be deployed on either side of the central defence to thwart opponents from sending dangerous crosses in.
Big Kelvin Madzongwe is likely to be deployed as the midfield sentinel, with Devon Chafa and Farai Madhanaga completing a powerful midfield trident.
Upfront, departing Chinyengetere and Gift Mbweti are likely to be deployed in support of stocky forward Lameck Nhamo, who has quickly settled at the miners.
Meanwhile, AS Otoho arrived in the country yesterday in two batches and conducted their only training session at the match venue.
There has not been an official word from this French-speaking team, but coming into the duel tied on a 1-1 stalemate, they know they have a chance of knocking out the hosts from the competition.
FC Platinum’s probably line-up
Petros Mhari, Raphael Muduviwa, Elvis Moyo, William Stima, Lawrence Mhlanga, Kelvin Madzongwe, Devon Chafa, Farai Madhanaga, Gift Mbweti, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Lameck Nhamo. The Herald.