Mukudzei Chingwere Sports Reporter
THE Confederation of African Football have assigned Namibian referee, Jonas Shongedi to take charge of FC Platinum’s champions’ league preliminary round, first leg tie on Wednesday.
The two times Zimbabwean champions who completed their 2018 Castle Lager Premiership season with a 78-points haul following a 0-0 draw against Highlanders at Barbourfields yesterday, visit the Malagasy giants, CNaPS, for the first leg tie to be staged in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
Yesterday’s draw against Bosso meant that FC Platinum failed to set a new points record for the PSL as they finished one short of the total picked by Charles Mhlauri’s CAPS United side of 2004.
FC Platinum will now immediately turn their attention to their Champions League duties where Shongedi will be the man in the middle.
Oshakati based Shongedi will be assisted by compatriots, Mathew Kanyanga and Christof Alfred Vries, as first and second assistants respectively, Joshua Bondo of Botswana is the fourth official and Ahmad Nazeer Hossen Bowud of Mauritius is the match commissioner.
The Namibian official is no stranger to handling matches involving Zimbabweans, on February 2 last year, Shongedi was part of the cast that handled CAPS United’s preliminary round first leg clash away to Lioli of Lesotho and the match ended in a scoreless stalemate.
After that opening match the Harare giants grew from strength to strength in the tournament and went on as far as the group stages of Africa’s premier knock-out club competition.
While the Zimbabweans will not be expecting any favours from the match officials, local clubs and national teams have not had many problems with officials from the region.
But they have been often had the bad luck of being hard-done by officials from North and West Africa.
Shongedi on his part However, the Namibian is no stranger to controversy, early this year he reportedly made a number of questionable calls when he handled a league match in the Namibian premier league, which ended 4-2 in favour of Eleven Arrows in their clash against Orlando Pirates.
To their credit FC Platinum players do not have a history of mischief in the field of play and coach Norman Mapeza need to remind his players not to be reckless and avoid crunch tackles on the continent as they chase a group stage berth.
Meanwhile, the platinum miners will fancy their chances of doing very well in the early stages of the competition following the changes in the CAF calendar which appears to suit Zimbabweans teams.
Previously Zimbabwean teams will plunge into the African safari coming from their off-season break which will require a number of competitive matches to get them going.
Now the premiership kings start an audacious journey to conquer the continent exactly a week after playing their last league match.
Seasoned coach Rodwell Dhlakama who took Monomotapa to the CAF Champions’ league group stages in 2009 said the changes in the CAF schedule should be a blessing for Mapeza and his men.
“In football we have four components that are the tactical, physical, physiological and technical and you will realise that during pre-season 70 percent of the time will be spent on physical and physiological aspects.
“Now that they have just finished their season you will realise that they already have their fitness base available and they just need to work on the tactical aspect of the game.
“The form is there, technically they are sound and I think they are more prepared for this competition than before and I hope they will do well in this competition.
“If you have noticed teams start playing entertaining football as the season progresses and at the moment we are at that stage.
“There is also the issue of fatigue but above all they are better prepared like I said,” he said.
“I cannot talk much about their chances against the team from Madagascar, it is now a long time since I followed the way the opposition from Madagascar is playing.
“But the issue that the Zimbabwean season has just ended I think it will give Norman (Mapeza) a big advantage and I wish him all the best,” said Dhlakama.