Sikhumbuzo Moyo in CAIRO, Egypt
FC Platinum venture into the lion’s den to face Egyptian football giants Al Ahly this evening hoping to perform a Houdin Act just like they did three years ago when they became the first and only team from outside Harare or Bulawayo to lift the coveted Premiership title.
The Zimbabwean champions are bottom of their Total CAF Champions League Group B after two rounds of matches and face an Al Ahly side that has been invincible at home and even in the competition where they have only been defeated once in the last Champions League matches.
The Egyptians were beaten 1-0 by Arab rivals Etoile Du Sahel of Tunisia in the opening match of the Champions League campaign, the same day FC Platinum succumbed to a 1-2 loss away to Al Hilal of Sudan in Khartoum.
But for Pure Platinum Play, who a few days ago bagged their third Premiership title on the trot after stunning CAPS United 1-0 at the National Sports Stadium in Harare through a Perfect Chikwende second half strike, the seemingly invincible nature of their opponents just does not seem to worry them, not a bit and yesterday even left their hotel rooms for a tour of the famous Egyptian Pyramids about 50km away.
According to nationalgeographic.com, the Giza Pyramids, built to endure an eternity, have done just that. The monumental tombs are relics of Egypt’s Old Kingdom era and were constructed some 4 500 years ago.
Egypt’s Pharaohs expected to become gods in the afterlife. To prepare for the next world they erected temples to the gods and massive pyramid tombs for themselves filled with all the things each ruler would need to guide and sustain himself in the next world.
Like the Egyptian Pharaohs, FC Platinum are keen to conquer the football world and coach Lizwe Sweswe says now that the pressure of defending their league title back home is done and dusted, they are now fully focused in writing another piece of history, albeit in the continent.
“Not really giving any excuses for the two losses in this competition, I want to believe that the pressure that the boys had of defending the league title and also doing well in the Champions League might have been too much but now that this is done and dusted, that load is off our shoulders,” said Sweswe.
He said they have been working on improving their conversion rate which has also been telling in the two matches.
“We have been creating chances but failing to convert them while our opponents have been able to utilise the few chances they get so we have been working hard in that aspect while also making sure we are alert at the back,” said Sweswe.
The Zimbabwean champions conducted their final training session at the match venue, Al Salam Stadium, last night.
The two sides will clash again in the return leg at Barbourfields on January 11 before Sudanese side Al-Hilal come for the return leg at the same venue at Emagumeni a week later.
Pure Platinum Play wrap up their campaign with an away trip to Etoile Du Sahel of Tunisia at the end of next month.