By Tadious Manyepo
FC Platinum coach, Norman Mapeza, has challenged his men to go for broke in their CAF Confederation Cup play-off battle against Senegalese giants, Jaaraf, at the Stade Lat Dior, in Thiès, tomorrow.
The Zimbabwe champions are coming into this tie carrying a 0-1 deficit following their first-leg defeat at the National Sports Stadium last Sunday.
The Zvishavane side is chasing a place, in the continental club second-tier competition’s group stages, following their relegation from the CAF Champions League.
They crashed to a controversial 1-4 aggregate defeat, at the hands of Simba of Tanzania, in the battle for the group spots.
Mapeza’s team has a mountain to climb in West Africa if they entertain any hopes of remaining in the competition, this season.
The platinum miners wasted several opportunities, including a penalty, in the reverse fixture in Harare.
Albert Diene then tapped in, 20 minutes from time, which means the Zimbabweans come into this battle with justified optimism.
FC Platinum failed to shift into the next gear, in that match, as the effects of the Covid-19-induced inactivity in the country, took their toll.
The former Monomotapa gaffer has constantly blamed the rust, within his camp, which has accumulated due to the inactivity in the local league.
Premiership football has been on hold, for over 14 months, in the country.
FC Platinum has been applying for clearance from the Government and, at some point, spent most of their preparation time waiting for that waiver.
They have played just six competitive matches, since March last year, including the pre-seaon Castle Lager Super Cup final, against Highlanders.
Former coach, Pieter Hendrikus de Jongh, was barred from sitting on the bench in CAF competitions as he didn’t have the requisite CAF A Coaching badge.
The Zvishavane team had to quickly act, and bring back Mapeza, to steady their ship.
Mapeza said his charges will fight, with everything they have, to try and secure a positive result in Senegal tomorrow.
The Zimbabweans need to post a victory, by at least two goals, to secure a group stage place.
However, a 2-1, 3-2 or 4-3 win for them, will still be fine as they will win the duel on away goals rule.
“We are aware (of the magnitude) of the challenge that we are going to face on Sunday (tomorrow),” said Mapeza.
“We have to throw everything, into this game, if we are to get positive results so we have to be prepared psychologically and we hope everything goes well come Sunday.”
Mapeza hinted that he might be forced to make changes to the team which played in the first leg.
“We are not going to say much about the team, at the moment, about the changes (we are going to make) and everything.
“We are still trying to come (up) with a team which we think can give us results.”
He said the team has some injury concerns, among three unnamed players, who might miss out.
“We have three guys who couldn’t train (on Thursday) but we still have some time to assess them so we will see, come Saturday night (tonight), if they are available or not.” The Herald