Barely two days after losing the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League (PSL) title to Dynamos, FC Platinum return to camp on Tuesday to start preparations for the 2012 Confederation of African Football (Caf) Champions League with coach Rahman Gumbo’s job safe.
The executive meets tomorrow to review the 2011 season with indications changes will be made to playing staff while the technical team stays intact.
Platinum lost the championship to Dynamos on goal difference despite beating Shooting Stars 3-1 on the last day of the race, while the new champions defeated Kiglon 2-0 at Rufaro.
The platinum miners are already focused on assembling a strong squad for the African safari as they race against the December 15 Caf deadline for the registration of players.
The four teams set to participate in Africa next year — Dynamos, Platinum, Motor Action and Hwange — will be registered by November 30 by Zifa, through the PSL before they send a list of their players by December 15 to Caf.
Preliminary round matches for Platinum, Motor Action and Hwange are likely to take place, hence the need to start early preparations. This means Platinum players will only break for the festive season and return to work on January 2.
Club president Nathan Shoko said on Monday: “We are not breaking camp. The team is going back into training tomorrow (today) as we prepare for the Champions League and the 2012 season.
“There are a number of potential players coaches would like to look at.”
Assistant coach Tendai Chikuni told the media after the match his charges were now gearing for the Champions League.
“We now need to go back and prepare for the Champions League. We are coming from a tough season where every game was like a final for us and losing on goal difference means we fought all the way,” he said.
Rumour is already in overdrive over which players they will sign for the Champions League with Dynamos goalkeeper Washington Arubi, on loan from Highfield United, being a prime target together with defender George Magariro.
Magariro is needed in central defence since Itai Gwandu is struggling with his game while cover for Benjamin Marere, Norman Maroto and Donald Ngoma is needed upfront.
In fact, according to word from Zvishavane, a number of players from Harare, including two coaches, have been in touch with the Platinum management over potential moves.
This is Gumbo’s chance to build his own team, having found a squad already in place when he took over in June — although he did manage to bring in Gwandu, the suspended Mthulisi Maphosa, Tsungi Mudzamiri, William Manondo and Ntokozo Tshuma.
This was in addition to an already impressive squad that had Tafadzwa Dube, Norman Togara, Thabani Kamusoko, Khumbulani Banda, Joel and Zephaniah Ngodzo, Brighton Dube, Mernard Mupera, Marere, Maroto, Ray Sibanda, Charles Sibanda and Bheki Ncube.
Meanwhile, Platinum received their medals at a local hotel in an impromptu ceremony on Sunday night as the PSL and sponsors Delta Beverages were not able to bring the medals to Gwanzura after the match.
Instead coach Gumbo just received a bouquet of flowers from a group of models after the match.
Interestingly, PSL board member (marketing) Eric Rosen was at Gwanzura, but seemed unaware of duties to be performed at the end of the match.
The Platinum management want the medals to be handed over to their players in front of their fans on Saturday at Mandava Stadium and are in the process of organising a friendly match for the day.