FC PLATINUM ON THE CUSP

Mukudzei Chingwere Sports Reporter
FC Platinum have not much assessed their opponents Association Sportive Otho D’oyo ahead of their Champions League first round, second leg soccer tie at Mandava tomorrow as the first leg played in Congo failed to provide them a conducive platform from which to assess their opponents.

The platinum miners play the Congolese side at their fortress tomorrow hoping to secure passage beyond the first round, but they claim they could have won the reverse fixture had it not been for the match officials they say gave them a raw deal.

Coach Norman Mapeza said he was denied a chance of assessing the opponent in the first leg as they concentrated much on withstanding the “onslaught” from the match officials.

Despite the complains, they took a giant step towards achieving their objective of reaching the group stages of the 2018-2019 Caf Champions League after grinding out a scoring 1-1 draw on the road.

In fact, the local Premiership kings could advance to the mini-league stages even with a scoreless stalemate, progressing on the away goals rule but to be assured of progression, Mapeza said they are gunning for an outright victory.

“I think you are aware of what happened when we went to Congo . . . That situation alone is a big motivation for us, with what happened in Congo the guys are really motivated and they just want to finish off the job.

“They (Otho) are a very good side but the match officiating was very difficult to tell what they were really doing because it was just us against the wall, they were signs that they are a good side but like I said much of our attention was on the central referee.

“We saw one or two things which if we work on, we might get a result on Saturday . . . As coaches we do not want to talk much about what we will do, we know what we want to achieve on Saturday and I will keep it to myself and the team,” said Mapeza.

Zimbabwe’s representatives in the African Safari stand on the threshold of making it to the mini-league stages for the first time in their history after failing to advance beyond the first round on two attempts.

The former Warriors coach will be aware his men can never get such a golden opportunity to go through after drawing what appears to be a very average side. To boost his cause, Mapeza plays the penultimate game at home, at worst needing a scoreless stalemate to sail through and he will also be stimulated by the return to full fitness of his pass master Rahman Kutsanzira, who missed the first leg.

“It is not yet over, the first half was played in Congo and the second is here, we still need a result here if the game finishes at 0-0 we will qualify but that is not guaranteed they can get a goal in the dying minutes.

“Everybody knows where we are standing now as a club, we are just 90 minutes away from achieving our objectives that is reaching the group stages of the Champions League, we just need to get the maximum support we need from everyone associated with this club.

“Kevin and Rahman were not in the squad because they were carrying some knocks, as for Kevin he might need some few more days but as for Rahman we have to make a decision to put him in the squad or not,” said Mapeza.

It is likely to be the last game in platinum colours for two-time Soccer Star of the Year, Rodwell Chinyengetere, who penned a two-year contract with South African Premiership side Baroka FC and will join them next month.

Meanwhile, the Congolese side was expected in the country at 10am yesterday but did not touch down in Bulawayo as earlier scheduled and were now expected in the country last night at 8pm.

Source: The Herald

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