FC PLATINUM suffered a blow ahead of their Caf Confederations Cup first round, first leg away match to Young Africans of Tanzania tomorrow after striker Donald Ngoma fell ill yesterday, and failed to make the trip.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Zvishavane-based side, the country’s only representative in continental football this, left the country for Der-es-Salaam yesterday morning, and were expected to touch down at Julius Nyerere International Airport later in the evening.
The first leg match, to be played at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, will kick off at 1500hrs local time before the return leg at Mandava Stadium in a fortnight.
However, ahead of tomorrow’s match, FC Platinum’s camp was hit with the Ngoma blow after the forward was struck off the traveling squad.
“He developed problems with his tonsils and we have left him behind,” said FC Platinum manager Joseph Mususa shortly before flying out yesterday.
“Because of the antibiotics and the medicine that he has been given, the doctor has advised that Donald will need some days to rest so he will not recover in time for the game,” Mususa added.
Ngoma’s absence would be a major blow to the team who would be looking to get at least a scoring draw or a win away before the decisive home match in two weeks’ time.
The lanky speedy forward scored FC Platinum’s second goal in their 2-1 win away over Sofapaka of Kenya in the previous round.
Mususa though attempted to play down the effects of Ngoma’s absence from the team.
“We had brought in an extra player to cover for such eventualities. It’s not a big blow although we had wanted all our best players to be there for such a crucial match. With the calibre of players we have in camp, everybody deserves a chance and I’m confident that those available can do the job,” said Mususa whose ideal result to bring back home is a 2-0 win.
But given the effect that Ngoma had in Kenya, his absence may be more serious than Mususa is letting on.
The team manager said Ngoma’s omission is one of the two changes that the team made from the side that travelled to Nairobi.
The other change is that of Nelson Maziwisa who has been dropped and replaced by Zambian import Obrey Chirwa.
Chirwa (21) missed the last trip to Nairobi because of illness. Besides those changes, Mususa said the squad is in good spirits and raring to go.
FC Platinum’s opponents tomorrow, Young Africans, said they are ready for the match.
However, reports from Tanzania suggest that the team, who are going into the match with their spirits low after a derby defeat to Simba last weekend, would be missing the services of two crucial players in skipper Nadir Haroub Ally and playmaker Andrey Coutinho due to injuries.
The Brazilian Coutinho sustained the injury during a league match two weeks ago and was expected to undergo a late fitness test although, according to the reports, he is unlikely to make it.
Ally has been confirmed out after he suffered a deep cut on top of his left eye in last Sunday’s clash against Simba.
“The team is already in camp in the city undergoing intensive training to upset the Zimbabweans,” said the team’s head of communication Jerry Muro,Coutinho was also omitted from the team that travelled to Botswana in the previous round of the competition where they qualified on a 3-2 aggregate win.
On the other hand, FC Platinum progressed after a convincing 4-2 aggregate win over Sofapaka.