EDWIN Madhanhanga scored late on to cap a polished act in the Champions League preliminary round first leg encounter against CNaPS Sport at the Centre des Loisirs de la CNaPS Vontovorona in Antananarivo yesterday, with the draw leaving his FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza a satisfied man.
Arguably one of the club’s best performers this season, Madhanhanga cancelled host captain Andoniaina Andrianavalona’s earlier goal to ensure what could prove a crucial away goal for the Zimbabwean champions.
After failing to go beyond the first hurdle in the previous competition, the miners entered this edition of the African Safari with a clear target of reaching at least the mini league stage of the tournament.
Mapeza came into the match with a defensive approach in his formation, seeking to contain the opponents and try to finish them off when they visit Mandava for the return leg.
The hosts fielded four players who are regulars in the Madagascar national team that has qualified for their maiden African Cup of Nations and it appeared the Zvishavane-based miners were going to have a long afternoon.
Although they created better chances, that the hosts boasted of a superior international exposure never showed on the field of play, with the visitors standing toe-to-toe with them and creating opportunities of their own.
CNaPS needed a penalty to breach the uncompromising FC Platinum defence, marshalled by Kelvin Moyo, Lawrence Mhlanga and Gift Bello.
Former Harare City man Madhanhanga, who is no stranger to continental football, put on a brilliant display on both ends of the pitch and kept the attacking duo of Rodwell Chinyengetere and Cameroonian Albert Eonde involved in the action.
Madhanhanga produced the best moment of the match when he joined the attack and was calm, opening space for himself before firing home the all-important goal that puts FC Platinum one foot into the next stage of this competition.
The result gave the miners an advantage going to the second leg of this game.
Although he admitted his men put in a great shift, Mapeza refused to be carried away and insisted the job was not yet done.
“Yah we came here looking for a positive result, we talked to the boys (and) going back home with a draw I think it is a massive achievement for us as a club.
“It is still game on, we just have to keep on working hard and try to get a result when they visit us in Zimbabwe.
“I cannot tell about the second leg, it is a game of football, but coming here and getting a positive result it is a massive achievement.
“The boys did very well, it was not easy playing on an artificial turf. We are not used to that, so I am proud of the boys, they worked so hard today,” said Mapeza.
FC Platinum started the match brightly, knocking the ball around, denying the opponents much of the ball in dangerous areas.
Thirteen minutes into the duel, Chinyengetere and Madhanhanga had a fine exchange before the latter released Eonde, but the Cameroonian could not connect his shot properly.
After 22 minutes, the hosts showed they could be dangerous when Madagascar international Tobisoa Sandratriniaina crossed the ball to Arnauld Randrinantenaina, who put the ball in the back of the net, but that could not count as he was in an offside position.
Slippery Madagascar international winger Lalaina Manampisoa was a constant threat for the Zimbabweans, but was restricted to long-range efforts together with fellow international teammate Jaotombo Bourahim.
Moyo intercepted Bourahim’s cross, with Tojo Miandrisoa lurking inside the box. A minute before the breather, the miners were inches away from a lead when Raphael Muduviwa’s free-kick just outside the box was inches over the bar, with the goalkeeper a beaten man.
Three minutes after the hour mark, Moyo fouled the on-fire Manampisoa inside the box and Namibian referee Jonas Shongedi pointed to the spot.
The Malagasy side’s captain, Andrianavalona, stepped up and sent Petros Mhari the wrong way.
But 20 minutes from time, midfield workhorse Madhanhanga forced his way into the box before firing home a powerful strike.
CNAPS coach Patrick Andriambololona was, however, defiant at the end of the game, maintaining that they still have a chance of progressing to the first round.
“It was a very difficult game, we got a number of chances, but we missed the several chances we created.
“FC Platinum scored a goal here and why should we not score away from home in Zimbabwe.
“We still have a chance, we just need to score a goal to have a chance and it is possible we can score,” said Andriambololona.
CNaPS Sport: J. Randrianasolo, R. Fetraniaina (H. Rasolofonimanana, 74th min), L. Manampisoa, J. Bourahim (T. Randrianantenaina, 88th min), R. Rajaonarivelo, T. Sandratriniaina, T. Miandrisoa, A. Andrianavalona, O. Ramiandrison, A. Randndrinantenaina, T. Andrianirina.
FC Platinum: P. Mhari, G. Bello, K. Moyo, L. Mhlanga, E. Moyo, R. Muduviwa (G. Mbweti, 72nd min), W, Mhango, F, Madhanhanga, K, Madzongwe, R Chinyengetere, A Eonde (T Chideu 84th min)