HOROYA AC of Guinea say they are serious about turning around their fortunes in the CAF Champions League competition after arriving seven days before their Group B clash against local champions FC Platinum.
The 16-time Guinean champions, who are still smarting from a 0-3 drubbing by Orlando Pirates of South Africa which condemned them to the bottom of the group, will clash with the platinum miners at Barbourfields on Saturday.
They left their base last Friday and touched down in Zimbabwe in the early hours of Saturday with 22 players after a long flight that took them via Cote d’Ivoire, Addis Ababa and South Africa.
They had their first training session yesterday at the National Sports Stadium’s B Arena under the watchful eyes of their veteran French coach Patrice Neveu.
Horoya AC managing director Amadou Bangoura, who is leading the delegation, said they had to come early since they want nothing short of maximum points to revive their campaign. Bangoura also said they could not take chances by travelling late since flights from the West African nation to this part of the world usually take awkward routes.
“The reason we are here is simple, we come from Guinea which is too far from Zimbabwe. So if we want to be efficient we must come early to prepare for our match set for next Saturday.
That is the only reason we are here and we thank the Zimbabwe federation (ZIFA) for facilitating our preparations.
“This is the biggest and most important match for all of us at HAC. That’s why we are here, being early to prepare for that,” said Bangoura. Horoya, who were quarter-finalists in the last edition of the tournament, have had a poor start in this year’s group stage campaign after drawing at home with holders Esperance of Tunisia and then losing by a bigger margin away to Orlando Pirates in Johannesburg.
Ahead of the trip to Zimbabwe, the team was boosted by the return of their Senegalese goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye from injury while Guinean international Samuel Conte also came in to bolster the squad as they seek to recover from the thumping by Pirates.
According to the club’s website, the duo of Daouda Camara and Germain Berthe missed the trip due to injuries. The visitors will have about a week to finalise their preparations and acclimatise to the conditions in Zimbabwe.
“I must be honest I didn’t know very well about Zimbabwean football. But what I know is that FC Platinum are now one of the big teams in Zimbabwe and have won two championships. So we are pleased to play with them. I wish the best team to win,” said Bangoura.
Their coach Neveu, who has vast experience having coached a number of national teams and top clubs on the continent, is aware of the task in his hands and would want his side to rediscover their winning form following a 1-1 draw in their domestic league against Coyah Olympic Club last week.
Both Horoya and FC Platinum are still winless with each having a point but Horoya AC anchor Group B because of inferior goal difference. Pirates lead Group B with four points and they are at par with holders Esperance ahead of the back to back group fixtures.
“I think, apart from Esperance who are the favourites of the group, all the other three teams have good chances of progressing. So I feel the team that believes very well in its capabilities will take the other place.
“We are professionals. We have been travelling and playing football in most parts of Africa for a long time. The last time we played in South Africa. We are pleased to be here, we are very happy to play here and we will do our best.
“We respect our opponents FC Platinum very much but for us these three points are fundamental. I don’t even think we have to go back home without these three points,” said Bangoura.
FC Platinum are playing in the group stage for the first time and they have started slowly after drawing 0-0 at home against Pirates before slumping to a 0-2 defeat to Esperance in Tunis.
Norman Mapeza’s men, who are the only side in the group currently on off-season, were completely outplayed by their hosts who could have won by a bigger margin last Friday in Tunis. They need to get their campaign back on track in the back-to-back clashes with Horoya AC. FC Platinum have to collect maximum points at home to stay in contention for the ticket to advance to the quarter-finals of the continent’s premier club competition.
But they are yet to score a goal in the group stage matches so far as Mapeza is still to find the best striking combination since the departure of Castle Lager Soccer Star of the Year Rodwell Chinyengetere.
The platinum miners will be without defender Elvis Moyo, who is on suspension.
Horoya AC squad:
Goalkeepers: Khadim Ndiaye, Abdoulaye Kante, Moussa Camara
Defenders: Godfred Assante, Marius Hamed Assoko, Boubacar Samasekou, Yakubu Hubu, Mohamed Lamine Fofana, Alseny Camara, Samuel Conte, Abu Mangue Camara
Midfielders: Baffour Sebe, Abdoulaye Camara, Dramane Nikiema, Brefo Mensah, Boniface Haba, Mohamed Djibo Wonkoye, Naby Soumah
Strikers: Patrick Razak, Ocansey Mandela, Sékou Keita, Siméon Bolaji
Source : The Herald