By Sikhumbuzo Moyo
FC Platinum today goes into the hat alongside 15 other clubs for the draw of the Total Caf Champions League group stage, with coach Norman Mapeza being bullish ahead of the drawing of lots whose games get underway on January 11.
Pure Platinum Play qualified for their maiden champions league mini league phase after knocking out CNaps of Madagascar as well as AS Otoho of the Republic of Congo whom they bundled out on away goals rule.
In the preliminary round, FC Platinum drew 1-1 with the Malagasy outfit away before registering a 1-0 win at Mandava in the second leg to set up a date against AS Otoho, who had stunned heavyweights Agosto of Angola.
A resilient performance in the first leg in Owando where they were heavily faced with on and off-the-field challenges saw the Zvishavane miners winning the first round tie against AS Otoho on away goals rule after a 1-1 away result and goalless draw at home last Saturday.
“I don’t think we would really want to choose who we will be paired against in the group stages, we have to accept whatever opponents that the draw gives us on Friday and see whatever happens,” said the back-to-back championship winning mentor Mapeza, who is also the reigning Castle Lager Premiership Coach of the Year.
Mapeza will go into battle in the pool games without the reliable Rodwell Chinyengetere who is set to join South African Absa Premiership side Baroka FC this coming month while there is also uncertainty over the want-away holding midfielder Winston Mhango.
Mhango has not been seen since the preliminary round, first leg match against Cnaps although impeccable sources are linking him with a move to Zambian outfit Kabwe Warriors who are under the guidance of Tennant Chilumba.
FC Platinum media relations officer Chido Chizondo recently said that the team has three more slots to fill for the African Safari.
“I’m sure the coaches have identified the players they might want to fill up the three slots, if ever there is need but they haven’t informed us as yet,” said Chizondo.
Mapeza was also coy on the issue.
“At the moment the players are still on holiday but I know that the majority of the guys we have in the squad will still be with us,” said Mapeza in a thinly veiled indication that maybe they intend to let go of certain players. FC Platinum resume training for the pool games on January 2.
Total Caf Champions League qualified teams
Wydad Athletic Club (Morocco), AS V.Club, TP Mazembe (DRC) Al Ahly Sporting Club (Egypt),Simba Sports Club (Tanzania) Horoya A.C (Guinea),Club Africain (Tunisia) Orlando Pirates (South Africa), FC Platinum (Zimbabwe), Asec Mimosas(Cote d’Ivoire), Ismaily(Egypt),Club Sportif Constantinois, Jeunesse Sportive de la Saoura(Algeria) Lobi Stars (Nigeria), Mamelodi Sundowns (South Africa). The Herald