FC Plat­inum face pos­si­ble Primeiro de Agosto re­match

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - Sport - Mukudzei Ching­were Sports Re­porter

ZIM­BABWE soc­cer kings FC Plat­inum will have to ne­go­ti­ate a dif­fi­cult ter­rain in their bid to reach group stages of the CAF Cham­pi­ons League, with a po­ten­tial re-match against An­golan gi­ants Primeiro de Agosto in the first round.

Ac­cord­ing to a draw that was that was made pub­lic yes­ter­day, the newly crowned Pre­mier­ship cham­pi­ons will play Mada­gas­car out­fit CNaPS FC in the pre­lim­i­nary round.

Should the min­ers pre­vail, they will set up a date against the win­ner be­tween the Primeiro Agosto and Con­golese side A.S Otoho in the first round.

It is the An­golans, who reached the semi-fi­nals only to be nar­rowly elim­i­nated by Esper­ance, who pose the real threat to FC Plat­inum’s as­pi­ra­tions.

FC Plat­inum will travel away to Mada­gas­car for the first leg at the Stade Mu­nic­i­pal de Toa­masina at the end of this month.

The re­verse fix­ture will be played in Zim­babwe at the cham­pi­ons’ fortress Man­dava dur­ing the week.

FC Plat­inum are aware that the In­dian Ocean is­landers have been reg­u­lar cam­paign­ers in this tour­na­ment and can­not be eas­ily writ­ten off.

Coach Norman Mapeza and his men, how­ever, have their own am­bi­tions of reach­ing the group stages of this com­pe­ti­tion and would want to use the pre­lim­i­nary stages to make known their state­ment of in­tent.

CNaPS have won the do­mes­tic top tier league in Mada­gas­car a record five times on the bounce from 20132017.

But just like the Zim­bab­wean cham­pi­ons, the Mala­gasy side were also elim­i­nated from the 2018 tour­na­ment at the first hurdle af­ter fall­ing to Ugan­dan cham­pi­ons KCCA on away goals rule.

FC Plat­inum go into this year’s edi­tion with ex­pec­ta­tions high fol­low­ing a com­mand­ing dis­play on the lo­cal scene where they stand on the verge of seal­ing a record 80-point vic­tory.

Mapeza has kept faith in the squad that has dom­i­nated the lo­cal game and will now have their char­ac­ter put to the test on the con­ti­nent.

That squad only had three ad­di­tions — Ian Nekati, Lameck Nhamo and Rain­some Pavari.

FC Plat­inum have been gain­ing some con­ti­nen­tal ex­pe­ri­ence over the years and have fea­tured twice in the Cham­pi­ons League as well as the Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup.

But a place beyond the pre­lim­i­nary stages has re­mained elu­sive.

Club chair­man Evans Mu­tombeni said they could not have asked for a bet­ter draw and also dis­missed ru­mours that Mapeza might be leav­ing at the end of the sea­son.

“We are very happy the draw is now out. There was a lot of anx­i­ety be­fore it was con­ducted and in terms of cost, we are de­lighted that we will face the team from our re­gion.

“We can­not ask for more than that and if we win the first game, we will play Agosto again if they beat the team from Congo.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence we had play­ing them early this year and watch­ing them play in the Cham­pi­ons’ League I think will help us if we play them again.

“Then there is the spec­u­la­tion that Mapeza will be leav­ing the club, it is not true. He is ac­tu­ally busy pre­par­ing for the Cham­pi­ons League. As FC Plat­inum, there is no way we would want a coach who has just won the league with us to leave.

“We want him to stay and we will give him all the sup­port in the Cham­pi­ons League as has al­ways been the case,” said Mu­tombeni.

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