Platinum brace for African jungle

FC PLATINUM will today know their opponents in the Caf Confederations Cup when the draw for the preliminary stages of both the Caf Champions League and the Confed Cup is held in Cairo, Egypt.

HENRY MHARA
SPORTS REPORTER

Algerian side, ES Setif, won the last edition of Caf Champions League against AS Vita club of DR Congo while Egyptian side, Al Ahly, won the Confederation Cup against Sewe Sport.

The matches of both football tournaments will start after Caf Super Cup between ES Setif and Al Ahly in February.

The well-resourced FC Platinum is the only local club who will represent the country in the continental interclub competitions this year after league champions Dynamos pulled out citing financial problems.

FC Platinum won the right to play in the Confed Cup after their penalty shootout triumph in the Chibuku Super Cup where they beat Harare City in the final match played at Mandava Stadium.

Dynamos were due to take part in the Caf Champions League, but passed on the chance of returning to Africa’s premier club competitions due to the above-mentioned reason — leaving FC Platinum to shoulder all the country’s expectations in continental football next year.

The Norman Mapeza-coached team has said they expect to finalise their squad for the competition by the end of this week, with a number of top players set to join the Zvishavane-based club.

Young Warriors duo of Bernard Donovan and Emmanuel Mandiranga should join on a season loan from Aces Youth Academy anytime soon while the likes of Tendai Samanja and Brian Muzondiwa have also been linked with a possible move to the club.

Some of FC Platinum’s probable opponents from the region include South African side Bidvest Wits, who are home to former Warriors left-back Onismor Bhasera, and former Champions League winners Orlando Pirates.

Zambia’s Power Dynamos, who finished second in the just-ended season, are coached by former Platinum boss Tennant Chilumba and will also take part in the Confed Cup.

FC Platinum are well sponsored by their parent firm Mimosa Mining Company, but they have not waited to be baby-fed, venturing into various enterprises to raise their own funds in line with Caf Club Licensing Regulations.

They will be returning to the competition after making their bow two years ago, just a year they were promoted into the Premier League.
However, they were knocked out in the second round after losing 3-0 to El Merreikh of Sudan.

They, under Rahman Gumbo, had swept past Swaziland’s Green Mamba beating them home and away.

South African clubs are back among the elite for the 2015 Caf competitions with two entrants each in the Champions League and Confederation Cup.

League winners Mamelodi Sundowns and runners-up Kaizer Chiefs will discover their fates today when the preliminary, first and second-round draws are made in Cairo.

Sundowns are home to Zimbabweans Cuthbert Malajila, Kuda Mahachi and Khama Billiat while Chiefs host Willard Katsande, Mathew Rusike and Ovidy Karuru.

Former African champions Orlando Pirates, and Wits University, are the South African qualifiers for the second-tier Confederation Cup. Former Warriors leftback Onisimor Bhasera plays for Wits.

Pirates lifted the African Champions Cup — forerunner to the Champions League — in 1995 and Chiefs won the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup six years later.

The leading 12 countries on merit are permitted two clubs each in both annual competitions with other nations restricted to one
Tunisia, Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Nigeria, Sudan, Algeria, Mali, Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville and Angola complete the elite.

Of the 46 Caf club title winners since competitive football was introduced 50 years ago, 24 have qualified for the 2015 draws.

Algerians Entente Setif, who won the 2014 Champions League final on away goals from Congolese V Club, are among seven winners of the competition who have qualified.

The others are Congolese TP Mazembe, Ahly, Ghanaians Asante Kotoko, Moroccans Raja Casablanca, Nigerians Enyimba and Tunisians Esperance.
Ahly this month won a record-extending 19th CAF title by lifting the Confederation Cup for the first time with a fortunate away-goal final victory over Ivorians Sewe Sport.

Kaizer Chiefs, Congolese AC Leopards, Kenyans Gor Mahia, Malians Stade Malien, Sudanese El-Merreikh and Tunisians CS Sfaxien are Champions League entrants who have won other Caf competitions.
Former title-holders Moroccans FUS Rabat and Tunisians Etoile Sahel have qualified for the Confederation Cup – the African equivalent of the Europa League.

They will be joined by nine winners of Caf competitions, including Pirates, V Club, Algerians Mouloudia Alger, Congolese CARA, Egyptians Zamalek, Ivorians ASEC, Guineas Horoya, Tunisians Club Africain and Zambians Power Dynamos.

The preliminary, first and second-round draws for both competitions are regionally based to reduce travel costs as prize money only applies to the group phases.

Caf Champions League winners receive $1,5 million (₤1,2 million) and runners-up $1 million while $660 000 goes to the Confederation Cup winners and $455 000 to the runners-up.

Both competitions start mid-February just one week after the completion of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Equatorial Guinea.

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