By Makomborero Mutimukulu and Eddie Chikamhi
FC Platinum touched down in the Guinea capital Conakry last night in a defiant mood, refusing to believe that their CAF Champions League dance is in comatose after only managing to collect a single point from a possible nine in the group stage.
After leaving Harare at 4pm on Saturday, sleeping over in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and passing through Abidjan in the Ivory Coast the Zimbabwean champions arrived at the Conakry International Airport just after 7pm.
They have some unfinished business with Horoya AC who beat them 1-0 at Barbourfields in their last group match.
The not so inspiring Stade du 28 Septembre plays host to the Group B clash tomorrow.
Kick-off is 6pm.
The hosts are fancying doing a double on Norman Mapeza’s men, probably buoyed by the visitor’s poor stats.
FC Platinum drew 0-0 with Orlando Pirates in their opening group game at Barbourfields, fell 0-2 away to Esperance of Tunisia in the second game before being subdued 0-1 at home by Horoya.
However, there is an air of defiance in the Pure Platinum Play camp with their Cameroonian striker Albert Eonde telling the Guinean press that his team is here to make a game of it.
“We are confident of getting a good result,” he said.
“The fact that Horoya beat us at home in our last game is for the history books. This is a new game and we are treating it as such.
“Those who want to write us off can do that at their cost, the coach has been telling us that we are still in this competition and we believe we are still in this competition,” Eonde said.
Mapeza also told The Herald last night that he wanted his charges to keep believing.
The former Warriors coach said he had also asked his charges to stay hydrated in order to overcome the humidity that greeted them in Conakry.
“We travelled safely and had a night stopover in Addis Ababa but it has been a tiring journey.
“It’s very humid here and the guys need to stay hydrated, meaning drinking plenty of fluids especially water, as well as having enough sleep,’’ Mapeza said.
The FC Platinum coach remained a defiant man and said although they are still win-less in the group, all hope was not lost and rallied his charges to turn around their campaign.
“We have to really push in these last three games . . . with football you never know. It’s all about belief and a positive mind in these last three games,’’ Mapeza said.
The platinum miners are playing in the group stage for the first time and it has been rude awakening for the Zimbabwe champions.
Unlike their opponents who arrived in Zimbabwe seven days before their match, Pure Platinum play will only have one day to fine-tune their preparations on foreign soil before they plunge into battle.
The visitors are now likely set to have a light workout in the morning to shake off fatigue before their final practice session at the match venue at game time.
Ironically, Horoya’s campaign had also seemed to have gone off the rails when they handed a 3-0 defeat by Orlando Pirates in Soweto.
But it was the victory over FC Platinum that lifted their spirits and has left the club’s management optimistic once again.
The club’s vice-president, Soufiane Souare, told the Horoya AC website that they are looking to complete a double and re-assert themselves in the competition.
Horoya are third in the group with four points, two behind both Orlando Pirates and Esperance who are also set to clash in Tunisia.
Souare said it is essential to win this match to boost their confidence ahead of more difficult assignments away to Esperance and then at home to Pirates in their last game. Horoya reached the quarter-finals last year.
“Of course, the motto is concentration first. We are 72 hours from an important game, with the imperative of taking the three points. Everyone is focused in this direction.
“I see the group very focused, motivated players, very sharp, but especially very strong. We feel the urge and it shows us that they want to consolidate the achievements of last year.
“That’s why the same executive office is strongly behind them to push them to glean the three possible points,” said Souare.
The Horoya vice-president, who is son to the club’s president, Mamadou Antonio Souare, believes they still have a good chance of progressing top the quarter-finals.
The 16-time champions of Guinea had made a false start with the 1-1 home draw against Esperance before crashing to a 0-3 defeat away to Orlando Pirates.
Souare believes the win against FC Platinum opened the doors for his side.
“It was a very great feat, already we have played four matches of the preliminary rounds. We are playing well especially in our first group game against Esperance Tunis, a game that could have won, but we got (1-1) in the very end of the game.
“The second day, Horoya fell in South Africa (3-0), a score that did not reflect the face of the meeting. Then, this victory against Platinum FC (1-0) has revived us in our pool. What is vital now is to win this Tuesday,” said Souare. The Herald