Eddie Chikamhi in HARARE and Sikhumbuzo Moyo in BULAWAYO
FORMER Zimbabwe youth international Butler Masango believes the Zambian duo of Augustine Mulenga and Justin Shonga could pose the greatest danger to FC Platinum when they kick-off their group phase campaign against Orlando Pirates at Barbourfields this Saturday.
Masango is now based in South Africa where he is heavily involved in developing young footballers.
“It’s going to be a tough game because Orlando Pirates play counter-attacking football using their wing-backs and they have good strikers — the two Zambians Augustine Mulenga and Justin Shonga.
“I haven’t seen FC Platinum playing but I believe if they can maintain their team shape and don’t give Pirates time and space on the ball they can get a favourable result.
“They (FC Platinum) have a very good coach in Norman Mapeza, so it gonna be an exciting game but I will support my home country team and hope they win all their home matches,” said Masango.
The platinum miners were handed a major lift ahead of the battle with the recovery of Zimbabwe international Kevin Moyo from injury.
The Warriors defender picked up the knock in the last game of the 2018 season against Triangle United.
“He (Moyo) is now training alongside the rest of the squad,” said Mapeza.
FC Platinum are set to descend on Bulawayo today for the final leg of their preparations against Pirates.
The cheapest ticket for the rest of the ground will be going for $5 while those who will sit on the wings will part with $10 with VIP seats costing $20.
The platinum miners were also drawn against defending champions Esperance of Tunisia and Horoya Athletic Club of Guinea.
Club spokesperson Chido Chizondo yesterday said FC Platinum will camp in Bulawayo from today.
“We will advise of the training itinerary once we arrive there,” said Chizondo.
FC Platinum were dealt a blow when CAF ruled that their Mandava home ground was not fit to host the group stages of the tournament.
Their fans have vowed to follow their team to Bulawayo this weekend and back their cause against the Soweto giants. Bulawayo giants Highlanders have called on the fans in the city to fill up Barbourfields on Saturday to enjoy the game.
“Let’s come in numbers and enjoy the game of football as Champions FC Platinum lock horns with Orlando Pirates in a CAF Champions League group stage match set for Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday.
“Be there when it happens! Don’t miss out! #FillUpBF,” the club posted on their macro blogging site Twitter.
Warriors and Dynamos cheerleader Chris “Romario” Musekiwa said it was their obligation to mobilise fans to come and rally behind the Zimbabwean representatives.
“The big match is upon us on Saturday as FC Platinum takes Orlando Pirates head on at Barbourfields Stadium in a CAF Champions League first group match.
“As national cheerleaders it’s our obligation to mobilise fans to come and rally behind our Zimbabwean representatives as they clash against the South African giants.
“It’s beyond club affiliation, our national pride is at stake when it comes to this stage of the game.
“We are calling on football supporters from all corners of the country to come in their droves and fill up Barbourfields to create a carnival atmosphere to ensure FC Platinum prevail,’’ said Musekiwa.
Meanwhile, FC Platinum are adjusting to the disappointment of failing to approval for their home matches to be played at Mandava and have moved on from that heartbreak.
“Everyone has moved on and we are ready to play in Bulawayo, BF (Barbourfields) is now our home and everyone is now feeling very comfortable going there,” said Chizondo.
“That is why we are going to Bulawayo tomorrow (today) which is far much earlier because we feel Bulawayo will be our home.
“We are very confident all football stakeholders in the country will be supporting us as we are representing the country in this competition, it is not about FC Platinum but Zimbabwe and that is why we do not have a problem in playing anywhere in Zimbabwe.’’
Source : The Herald