FC Platinum will seek to limit the damage on Saturday when they host Young Africans of Tanzania in the second leg, first round of the Caf Confederation Cup at Mandava on Saturday.
BY WELLINGTON TONI
Yanga are expected in Harare tomorrow and will fly to Bulawayo — familiar territory for them having played Highlanders in the Champions League more than a decade ago — before taking the road trip to Zvishavane on the same evening.
Weather conditions in Zvishavane are basically the same as in Tanzania — hot and humid — and 24 hours is enough time for them to acclimatise.
With the Confederation of Africa Football (Caf) having changed hosting terms in the their inter-club competitions, most clubs prefer to arrive just 48 hours before their match. Unlike in the past where the host team paid for all the expenses, the visitors now cater for themselves.
Platinum are trailing 5-1 from the first leg and will have to punch above their weight to get four clear goals to progress to the next stage.
Both teams warmed up for the match in contrasting ways over the weekend as Platinum had to fight, via a last minute Donald Ngoma equaliser, to get a point against newly promoted Dongo Sawmills in the opening week of the 2015 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.
Coach Norman Mapeza blamed the sluggish start to the campaign on tiredness.
“The boys were looking tired after we played an international match a week before against Young Africans in Tanzania. The weather was not favourable there (in Tanzania). It was hot and humid and we did not have time to rest but I cannot say that was an excuse. Dongo are a good side. They are not a small team. You saw what happened when Tsholotsho beat Harare City on Friday. This is going to be long season,” Mapeza said on Monday.
That aside, he knows the pressure that comes with the fourth biggest football franchise, but certainly the richest, in Zimbabwe and will impress upon his boys not to put themselves under pressure, lest they make mistakes and lose at home.
Ngoma missed the loss in Tanzania due to illness and having played this past weekend, is expected to be back in the starting line-up to add experience to an otherwise youthful side.
Wisdom Mutasa is expected back in the Platinum line up having played and scored in the Zimbabwe Under 23’s 1-0 win over Cameroon in the first round, first leg of the All Africa Games at Rufaro Stadium on Sunday.
He scored twice in the last match against Sofapaka and should be come right again, Platinum will give the tried and tested East Africans a good run for their money.
While Platinum struggled in the season opener, Yanga maintained their lead in the Vodacom Premier League after beating Mgambo JKT 2-0 at Mkwakwani Stadium in Tanga on Saturday to move four points clear at the top of the log.
Second half goals by Simon Msuva and Amissi Tambwe were enough to consolidate Yanga’s claim for the title. The result raised Yanga’s tally to 37 points after 18 rounds of play.