NORMAN Mapeza has called upon his young FC Platinum team to prove that they are on course to becoming a big side by doing well in the Orange Caf Confederations Cup.
BY HENRY MHARA
The former Warriors captain led his youthful looking squad out of the country yesterday morning heading for Kenya where they will face that country’s Sofapaka Football Club in the competition’s preliminary round, first leg contest at the Nyayo National Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Kickoff is 1400hrs Zimbabwean time.
Even though he is aware of the threat posed by Sofapaka, Mapeza made a bold pledge that he will attack the hosts, urging his players to ensure they return home with no regrets.
Asked whether his side, with an average age of 24, would cope with the usually difficult demands of continental football, Mapeza calmly responded: “I have been talking to them since day one (about the importance of this match) when we came back for the preseason training, that the most important thing is for them to go out there and enjoy themselves.
“The majority of them are still young and desperate for exposure and experience so this is the time for them to shine. The experience they will get is not only good for FC Platinum, but also for the country as the bulk here play for the national under 23 side.
“ It’s a learning curve for most of these guys, you know everything in life there is a starting point and I think this is a new beginning for these youngsters. If they do well now it would be easy for them when they play and represent the country; they would know what is expected of them in the African jungle.”
Mapeza is satisfied with his team’s preparations ahead of the match, and would be content if they can return home with at least a draw.
“I can’t complain much about our preparations, the guys are ready mentally and physically. I just hope we will bring back a positive result. We have a slight advantage of playing away first, but that is if we can get a result. I will be happy if we win but a draw would be good also,” said Mapeza.
If the truth be told, Sofapaka is far away from a team that falls on a “big team” bracket of African football and FC Platinum, with all their resources, should not have much difficulty in dispatching them.
But Mapeza said: “They are not a bad side. I realised that they are physically strong and thrive on that strength.
“But technically they are not that good. They haven’t started their league as well, but they just had an opportunity to play some friendlies. We also had our friendly matches but for us it was not about the result, but checking on our fitness; how far we have gone.
We are representing the country and I hope everyone will give us maximum support and if everything goes well we will not disappoint.”
Mapeza chose to travel with a young brigade of 20 players with the only notable elders in the travelling squad being Thabani Kamusoko, Nelson Maziwisa, Gift Bello and Donald Ngoma.
While the veterans will obviously provide stability to the team, but it is the Young Turks, the likes of Wisdom Mutasa and Walter Musona who are expected to shine.
Musona, 20, one of the youngest in the team, but hugely influential, has backed his teammates to handle the Nairobi pressure
“There is nothing special about this game, we will try to play the way we did last season in the league and hopefully we will do well. We are calm, we are confident of our capabilities and I know we will get a good result.
“Playing away first can be an advantage on one side but can be a disadvantage on the other side. It’s an advantage if we can win or get a scoring draw, but it’s a disadvantage if we lose or fail to score. We just need a win, even a one goal win will be enough for us. We are aiming for the next round. We are targeting a final and even winning the cup.
“We have to be focused and work hard, I think it’s very much possible,” Musona, the young brother to Warriors striker Knowledge said.
FC Platinum traveling squad
P Mhari, R Muduviwa, S Shoko, T Dzumbunu, W Mutasa, D Ngoma, R Sibanda, T Kamusoko, A Katebe, G Bello, I Nekati, W Musona, N Papias, B Muzondiwa, E Moyo, F Tizayi, K Moyo, N Maziwisa, E Mandiranga, W Kamudyariwa.