FC Platinum should be considered among favourites to win the Caf Champions League, provided they work hard, according to Mozambican side Clube de Ferroviario Beira coach, Joas Antonio Chissano.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
Chissano’s prediction came after his side lost 1-0 to the Norman Mapeza-coached side in a friendly played at Mandava Stadium on Saturday.
Mkhokheli Dube scored the solitary goal for the Zvishavane team, who used the clash to prepare for their African safari.
Mapeza’s men are also scheduled to play two games against Zambian clubs, beginning with Zanaco at the same venue tomorrow afternoon and wrap up their preparations against Nkana Devils, as they gear for their Caf Champions League preliminary round tie against Angolan side Deportivo Lero Agosto.
Speaking after the match, Chissano said he was impressed by the way the home side played and reckons that they have what it takes to go all the way to win the continental premier club competition.
“They will do well in the Champions League. Basing on the way they played today, it is clear that they can win if they remain determined,” he said.
FC Platinum travel to Luanda for the preliminary round first leg on the weekend of February 9-11, before hosting Deportivo Lero Agosto seven days later.
If they manage to overcome the Angolans as expected, they will face the winner between South African side Bidvest Wits and Pamplemousse of Mauritius in the first round, with the victorious team qualifying to the group stages.
Chissano, who probably knows what is required to excel in the competition, having guided his team to the group stage last season, believes FC Platinum have what it takes to reach the mini-league stage, or go all the way to the finals.
“I have watched the team play and from my view I can safely say my colleagues’ team (FC Platinum) can stand a chance to march all the way to the group stage of the tournament,” he added.
But Mapeza should not be flattered by the complements, as he is facing a formidable opponent in his quest to better the club’s record in the competition.
Deportivo de Agosto are no push-overs, with a record of 11 league titles in the country since 1979 and have won back-to-back titles in the past two years.
The Angolan champions are also seasoned campaigners in African football, having made eight appearances in the prestigious club tournament.
They also reached the quarter-finals of the lucrative tournament in 2009, meaning they are giants in African football.
Angolan sides have in the past proved tough opponents for local teams.
Ngezi Platinum were bundled out of the Caf Confederations Cup by Clube Desportivo do Libodo last season, while Dynamos were knocked out of the same competition in 2012 by Interclube.
But Mapeza is working flat out to build a formidable side which can challenge for the honours after adding high-profile names to the squad, most of them did not disappoint on their debut on Saturday.
The gaffer reinforced his squad with Never Tigere, Rahman Kutsanzira, Edwin Madhananga, Kelvin Madzongwe and James Mukombwe.
They have also added two foreigners in Shadreck Mayembe, a Zambian, and Cameroonian youth international Albert Eyonde. The two did not feature in the first match as they carried knocks, but are expected to play in the next two friendlies.
FC Platinum did not make it to the group stages of the Champions League in their maiden appearance in 2012, after falling to Al-Merreikh of Sudan to a 5-2 aggregate defeat in the first round.
In 2015, they played in the Caf Confederation Cup tournament, but their performance wasn’t any better.
Mapeza’s men bowed out in the first round, following a humiliating 5-1 aggregate defeat to Young Africans of Tanzania.