By Innocent Kurira
FC Platinum assistant coach Lizwe Sweswe is convinced his side has improved compared to their first three Caf Champions League Group B outings after securing a draw with Egyptian giants Al Ahly at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday.
Sweswe took charge of the game, with his new boss Pieter de Jongh watching from the terraces.
It was a game FC Platinum needed to win to save their campaign, but it wasn’t to be. The draw blew away their faintest hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout stages.
Even if they win their last two games against Al Hilal of Sudan at home and Tunisian giants Étoile du Sahel away, it won’t be enough to progress to the quarter-finals.
With the draw, Al Ahly moved onto seven points, two behind Group B leaders Étoile du Sahel, who sit on nine points, while Al Hilal are third with six points and FC Platinum are firmly rooted at the bottom with just a single point.
The Zvishavane side probably deserved better than a draw, having dominated the visitors in the first half, but they wasted numerous chances to add to their one-goal lead.
With new signing Last Jesi leading the charge, FC Platinum looked a transformed side and were rewarded for their early dominance when another new signing Stanley Ngala scored from close range with just 19 minutes played.
It was in the second half that things fell apart when seven minutes after the breather Marwan Thwarat equalised for Al Ahly.
As has been the case all season, poor defensive decision-making was to blame. The defensive backline comprising William Stima, Lawrence Mhlanga, Raphael Muduviwa and Tawana Chikore was jittery all afternoon.
FC Platinum’s defence has been horrendous to say the least and that is highlighted by their poor goal difference of minus six. The Zvishavane outfit is believed to be in the hunt for a centre-back.
The hosts seemed to fizzle out in the second stanza with their players visibly looking jaded.
Perhaps the PSL calendar is affecting them as they have been playing against teams almost midway through their seasons while it’s off-season in Zimbabwe.
Despite the disappointment of their journey coming to an end at home, Sweswe cited some improvements in his side.
“It’s now tough because we wanted the three points so that we could stay in the competition. I am happy about the improvement of the team compared to previous games that we played against these three teams. At least we have some positives and we take those as we look forward to the coming games,” said Sweswe.
FC Platinum now prepare to face Al Hilal at Barbourfields Stadium this coming weekend. The Chronicle