By Eddie Chikamhi
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza and his Simba SC opposite number Sven Vandenbroeck have declared war ahead of the decisive CAF Champions League football clash at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, tomorrow.
The match, which has been dubbed “War in Dar” by the hosts, carries a lot of significance for both sides as it will determine the team to progress to the group stage of Africa’s premier club football competition.
The game is likely to be broadcast on ZBCTV.
The platinum miners take a 1-0 advantage from the first leg played at the National Sports Stadium two weeks ago.
Mapeza told journalists in Tanzania that their main task is to complete the job they started back home by eliminating Simba from the competition.
“We have come to do the same task of seeking victory and we are ready to get the win and qualify. There is nothing else we need, all we know is our opponents are psychologically prepared and we know they are a tough team to play at home, we respect them but we are not afraid of them.
“We got a 1-0 win back home, we should have scored more but even the slim advantage is good for us because we will strive to score goals away, we will push them and the more they move forward, we have the chance to kill them off on counter-attacks.”
FC Platinum, who are looking to progress to the mini-league for the third time in a row, did well at home when they denied the Tanzanian giants an away goal.
A goalless draw from tomorrow’s encounter or any scoring defeat which is not by two-goal margin, will be enough to see them through to the last 16.
Unlike the first leg that was played behind closed doors in Harare due to the coronavirus protocols, the Tanzanian champions have been allowed to fill half of the 60 000-seater Benjamin Mkapa Stadium tomorrow after applying to CAF for exemption.
Tanzanian football has been opening doors to the supporters through the pandemic.
With the backing of their legion of fans, Simba are likely to throw everything at FC Platinum in their quest for a comeback. But Mapeza is not frightened at all.
“Don’t worry, we know how to deal with them, I have been following their games and I know how to handle them, it will be a good game and our main target is to reach the group stage,” he said.
FC Platinum have been fighting against the odds from day one.
After spending nine months without playing competitive football because of the Covid-19 lockdown, they still managed to get an impressive result in the preliminary round when they outclassed Costa do Sol of Mozambique 4-1 on aggregate.
The platinum miners won the first leg 2-1 in Maputo and then followed up with a comfortable 2-0 win at home.
They were the underdogs in the first leg against Simba SC despite playing at home but they fought hard and Perfect Chikwende gave them a deserved win with a 17th minute strike.
However, Simba coach Vandenbroeck has refused to throw in the towel and is confident of turning around the game.
“We lost 1-0 away but we now have 90 minutes to battle and make things right. We know what to expect from our opponents and we are ready to make Tanzanians proud. We want to reach the group stage and we have to win the match,” Vandenbroeck told reporters in Dar es Salaam.
Simba reached the quarter-finals of the 2018-2019 CAF Champions League edition but failed to make it past the preliminary stage in the last competition after losing on the away goals rule to UD Songo of Mozambique.
The club’s spokesperson, Haji Manara, told a press conference yesterday that they are ready to throw everything at FC Platinum.
“Simba’s preparations and strategies towards our game against FC Platinum are going well,” he said.
“When we said ‘WIDA’, ‘War In Dar’ we did not mean negative, it will be a battle on the field to make sure we win and proceed to the group stage. Yesterday I received a call from the leader of one opposing team asking for this WIDA and I said ‘Yes the message has arrived’”.
Simba have a good record when playing at home in the CAF Champions League. They expect to open the doors to 30 000 supporters tomorrow after CAF rejected their proposal to fill up the stadium.
“We have asked the Confederation of African Football to fill the entire stadium but so far we have not received a response and it will remain 50 percent as before, but if we get our request we will do so.
“We have made a discount on tickets . . . and the discount offer will end today (Monday) at 6pm. We reduced these entrance fees in order to attract more people.
“Simba are a team of the people, our strength is in the people and we have been winning all the matches when the fans show up. We won against Al Ahly, AS Vita and others, so on Wednesday Zimbabweans (FC Platinum) will not survive,” said Manara.
The winner of the two-legged encounter will qualify for the lucrative group stage whose draw will be conducted on January 17, with matches getting underway on February 12.
FC Platinum squad
Petros Mhari, Rahman Kutsanzira, Nomore Chinyerere, Perfect Chikwende, Rainsome Pavari, Donald Dzvinyai, Kelvin Madzongwe, Raphael Muduviwa, Tawana Chikore, Future Sibanda, Denzel Khumalo, William Stima, Gift Bello, Francis Tizayi, Elie Ilunga, Gift Mbweti, Elias Maguri, Silas Songani, Kelvin Mangiza, Lawrence Mhlanga, Ralph Kawondera, Panashe Mutimbanyoka, Evidence Tendayi. The Herald.