It could have been better for FC Platinum and Hwange in the African football safari at the weekend.
But that dream of having three teams in the Caf Champions League and the Confederation Cup blew into smithereens as Platinum and Hwange fell to Sudanese sides on Saturday and Sunday.
Platinum, after a 2-2 home draw two weeks ago, found El Merreikh a tougher nut to crack in Omdurman and crashed to a 3-0 loss to bow out of the Champions League 5-2 on aggregate.
On the other hand, Hwange fought bravely and came out with a 0-0 draw against Al Amal Atbara, but they had drawn 1-1 at home to lose on the away goals rule.
By the same token, we say congratulations to Dynamos for that 1-0 win over Liga Muçulmana of Mozambique which ensured a 3-2 aggregate win and progress to face defending champions Esperance in the second round.
Dynamos had drawn 2-2 in the first leg and all their goals in this competition have come from one source, Takesure Chinyama, whose form is likely to re-attract the attention of South African side SuperSport United once again.
The Dynamos home win brings lessons to Platinum and Hwange — win at home, not matter how ugly you do it. Dynamos were not at their best on Sunday, but they did win and did not concede.
For Platinum, it was a tough entry into Africa and, at least, they did not bow out in the preliminary round and will now have to fight to be in the same competition next season either as champions or the best-placed team.
They have the best resources in the land and are a professionally run outfit, managed by a private company. They can get any player they need on the land and pay the best figures, but now they need to do the football side of things.
In African football, any war you start against the Confederation of African Football (Caf) you won’t win. This organisation will make sure you play away from home, even when you are in Zimbabwe. The same happened to Highlanders in 2008 when they played El Merreikh at Gwanzura in the Confederation Cup.
The match officials will never be your friends; they are not meant to be, but they can easily become your worst enemies on the field of play. Last season, Dynamos beat MC Algiers 4-1 at home, but lost 3-0 away, but was it fair play?
We are not advocating that Platinum or Hwange play the dirty games, but they, like Dynamos, must always be aware that there are elements that influence the result of the match on and off the field of play.
Dynamos, themselves victims in the 1998 final against Asec Mimosas, will surely meet some of these shenanigans, mostly orchestrated by corrupt football administrators and match officials when they face Esperance in the next round.
It now all depends on how Platinum and Hwange react to the local league when they return and whether they feel they met their targets or at least didn’t get knocked out in the preliminary round.
Any attempt to fiddle with their technical departments and playing personnel will be unfortunate and will expose administrators from both sides as people who just want quick returns from their investments.
All the same, we say tough luck to Platinum and Hwange and wish Dynamos the best of luck in the next round. With only one team representing Zimbabwe now, real Zimbabwe fans must support them.