FC PLATINUM coach Norman Mapeza has turned to veteran forward Charles Sibanda to give his team the “elusive” goals as the Zimbabwe soccer kings go in search of their first win in the Champions’ League group. The Zvishavane miners host perennial campaigners Horoya AC of Guinea at Barbourfields this afternoon.
Interestingly, it is only FC Platinum and their Guinean visitors who are the only win-less teams in the pool which also includes group leaders and former champions Orlando Pirates and holders Esperance of Tunisia.
FC Platinum, just like their West African opponents, need nothing short of a win to keep their campaign alive following the goalless draw against Pirates and the 0-2 defeat away to Esperance.
Although they are tied on a single point apiece with Horoya, Mapeza is likely to have had more sleepless nights given that his team is the only side yet to find the target in the group.
The miners have struggled in the African Safari to get goals with the departure of Soccer Star of the Year Rodwell Chinyengetere to join South Africa Premiership side, Baroka, seemingly worsening the woes of the Zvishavane miners in front of goal.
Stung by the poor run in front of goal, there have been indications that 2010 Soccer Star of the Year and 2014 joint Golden Boot winner Sibanda has returned to his best just in time for the big game.
The 33-year old striker has been in the fringes for the past two seasons at Mandava but today he is primed to lead the line from the onset with Rahman Kutsanzira as well as Gift Mbweti also aiding the attack.
Devon Chafa has not been convincing of late but is likely to retain his place in the midfield trio that will include evergreen Farai Madhanaga and Kelvin Madzongwe.
Reliable Warriors central defender Kevin Moyo is fit again and is likely to partner club vice-captain, Gift Bello at the heart of defence.
Versatile William Stima is set to deputise at left back in the absence of suspended Elvis Moyo and Raphael Muduviwa is poised for another start place at right back.
Captain Petros Mhari has been inspirational in this competition, he has started all six matches from the preliminary round and has just conceded four goals in all the outings.
Both teams wrapped up their preparations yesterday with Horoya players confident of bouncing back from their disappointing 3-0 defeat at log leaders Orlando Pirates in their last game.
Defender Abdoulaye Camara said they do not want to repeat the same mistakes that saw them punished by the Sea Robbers.
He said they will play for their supporters and club president Mamadou Antonio Souare who is travelling with the squad to provide morale support.
Horoya reached the quarter-finals of the tournament last year and are keen to replicate the milestone.
“We made mistakes against Orlando Pirates. But know that we intend to correct these mistakes and we think this time win. The challenge for us is to redeem ourselves for people who devote a great deal to us, starting with our president. So all this brings us to wear the jersey to pay tribute to this great gentleman and all our supporters.
“We are aware of fact that we represent the football of a whole country. We will be frowned upon to fall for a second time in a row, especially that last year we passed this stage.
“The need to ensure our future in this competition means winning this double header against Platinum FC, a very difficult team to play,” said Camara.
To demonstrate their seriousness, Horoya arrived in Zimbabwe seven days ago and set up camp in Harare in preparation for this match. They arrived in Bulawayo on Wednesday and they now feel they are ready to go.
FC Platinum Probable Line-up:
Petros Mhari, Raphael Muduviwa, William Stima, Kevin Moyo, Gift Bello, Kelvin Madzongwe, Devon Chafa, Farai Madhanaga, Rahman Kutsanzira, Gift Mbweti, Charles Sibanda
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