FC PLATINUM will bid to clear the last hurdle and progress to the Caf Champions Lague group stage when they face Congolese side AS Otoho D’oyo in the first leg of their first round qualifier away from home tomorrow.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
Having gone past CNaPS earlier this month, Norman Mapeza and his lieutenants approach this encounter with confidence, especially considering they will be playing a side that is only making its first appearance in continental football.
AS Otoho D’oyo won their first league title last year and have shown that despite being novices in the competition, they are quite a formidable side as they eliminated Angola’s Premiero de Agosto, who reached the semi-finals of the competition this year.
It will be an important match for FC Platinum whose main concern would be avoiding defeat playing away from home.
That AS Otoho D’oyo conceded four goals in a single match when they travelled to Angola would give FC Platinum confidence that they can breach their guests’ defence which would give them an added advantage if achieved ahead of the return leg in Zvishavane on December 22.
The platinum miners will be looking forward to break the jinx, having twice failed to reach the Caf Champions League group stages.
In 2012, the platinum miners experienced back-to-back defeats to El Merrikh of Sudan where they lost 5-1 on aggregate. It was the same tale in 2015, where they had another early exit in the Confederations Cup following a 5-2 aggregate loss at the hands of Young Africans of Tanzania.
Early this year, the Zvishavane side slumped 5-1 on aggregate at the hands of Premiero de Agosto of Angola.
This time FC Platinum will be fancying their chances against AS Otoho D’oyo and will probably struggle for excuses if they were to fail.
Mapeza has since begged for patience, saying his side is still on a learning curve to compete at this level.
FC Platinum will be looking to be as tight as possible at the back and they have been boosted by the return of Kelvin Moyo, who missed the last match owing to an injury.
The platinum miners are renowned for the defensive stealth, but they will also be looking for penetration upfront once they get opportunities.
The burden at the top of the attack will be on Rodwell Chinyengetere who has been the team’s driving force.