Mapeza bullish despite travel challenges

Langton Nyakwenda in BLANTYRE, Malawi
FC PLATINUM coach Norman Mapeza believes his players should be psychologically ready for today’s Champions League battle, despite logistical glitches that affected their travel arrangements.

They take on Callisto Pasuwa’s Nyasa Big Bullets in a preliminary round first leg match at Kamuzu Stadium at 2:30pm.

The Zimbabweans could not fly from Lilongwe to Blantyre as per schedule yesterday morning after the Ethiopian Airways plane they were supposed to board developed a technical fault.

Nyasa Big Bullets officials ran around for an alternative mode of transport before they finally settled for a local coach which left Lilongwe just after midday and took over four hours to get to Blantyre.

The distance between Lilongwe and Blantyre is about 314km.

FC Platinum were supposed to get a feel the artificial turf at the Kamuzu Stadium at 2:30pm yesterday, but they ended up holding an hour’s session at the venue after 5pm.

Despite these chaotic travel arrangements, Mapeza is confident his boys will respond well.

“It’s (chaotic travel arrangements) something that is beyond our control,” Mapeza said.

“We are here now in Blantyre, we will probably now train for 30 to 40 minutes and we have to talk to the boys.

“This is what happens in Africa, most of the times, but psychologically we should be ready for the game.

“Travelling 300km by bus sometimes affects you psychologically, but at the end of the day we are here and have to play the game.’’

FC Platinum are making their third straight appearance in the Champions League and take on Pasuwa’s men.

“We all know Callisto (Pasuwa), he has done well in our football back home and it’s going to be a challenge.”

Mapeza lost the core of his squad during the July transfer window, but has faith in the players who are here in Blantyre.

FC Platinum lost Farai Madhananga, the Moyo twins Kelvin and Elvis Moyo to the South African Premiership, while Ali Sadiki is now in Zambia.

The platinum miners are also without veteran defender Gift Bello, who is suspended for this fixture, while goalkeeper Petros Mhari, who has returned from a trial stint in South Africa, missed the trip as he is mourning his late father who passed away last Sunday.

Some of the experienced players who are here in Blantyre include Devon Chafa, Rahman Kutsanzira, Raphael Muduviwa, Francis Tizayi, Never Tigere, Kelvin Madzongwe, Gift Mbweti and Rodwell Chinyengetere.

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