By Godknows Matarutse
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza wants his charges to be virtually flawless in their remaining two Caf African Champions League matches against South African giants Orlando Pirates and Esperance of Tunisia for them to finish on a high.
Mapeza reckons while his charges are already out of contention for a place in the knockout stages after managing only a single point in four matches they have played thus far in the competition, it is of paramount importance for his team to win their remaining two matches to boost their confidence.
Even if FC platinum win their remaining two games against Pirates (away) and Esperance (home), they would only reach seven points and cannot progress to the last eight of the competition.
The platinum miners travel to South Africa on March 8 to face the Sea Robbers, before wrapping up their maiden group stage campaign with a home tie against Esperance on March 16.
The reigning Zimbabwe champions resumed their preparations for the Pirates match on Tuesday following a four-day layoff after their return from Guinea where they lost 2-0 to Horoya AC.
And with the 2018 Castle Lager Premiership season fast approaching, Mapeza remains steadfast that their objective is to win every game they play as it is also now part of their preparations for the fresh local league season.
“Our objective remains the same to win each and every game we play. We might be out of reckoning for the knockout stages of the Champions League but we want to try and wrap up on a winning note,” Mapeza told the Daily News.
“For us it’s no longer just about the champions league but also preparing for the new season. We are using the opportunity to try different combinations while working on our shortcomings.
“There is no better way to prepare for the new season like playing against such teams like Pirates and Esperance.”
“This campaign has been an eye opener for us, it was a learning experience for everyone associated with the club.
“We hope to come back better next time. We now know what is needed at this level of the game and we hope to improve next time.”
It has not been an outstanding tournament for platinum as they commenced their Group B campaign with a goalless draw against Pirates at Barbourfields Stadium.
In their second match, the Zvishavane-based side lost 2-0 away to defending champions Esperance in Tunisia.
They then suffered disappointing back-to-back defeats to Horoya AC which ultimately ended any hopes of progressing to the next round of the tournament.
Probably for FC Platinum, their biggest undoing in this tournament has been failure to convert chances that came their way as they remain the only team yet to find the target in their Group.
The last time FC Platinum scored was in the final qualifying round when defender William Stima netted with a free kick away to Congolese side AS Otoho in the first leg.
Ever since last season’s top goal scorer Rodwell Chinyengetere left the platinum miners to join South Africa’s Baroka FC it has never been the same again for Norman Mapeza’s charges.
Chinyengetere was the team’s leading scorer last season and also bagged the Castle Lager Premiership Golden Boot together with the Soccer Star of the Year gong. Mapeza is now challenging those left to fill the void left by Chinyengetere.
“I always say scoring should not be strikers only. Anyone can score goals.
“I hope other guys will seize this opportunity and start scoring goals,” Mapeza said.
The Zvishavane-based side currently anchor Group B with a single point from four matches.
Esperance lead the pool with eight points while Horoya AC of Guinea are second in the group with seven points. Pirates are third with five points. DailyNews