Despite the ongoing dispute with Chicken Inn over Lawrence Mhlanga, FC Platinum have taken the risk and registered the defender in their final Caf Champions League squad.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
Chicken Inn claim that the player, who sat out the whole of last season as the row played out at Zifa offices and courts, belongs to them and have been digging in.
The platinum miners are saying that the player has been a free agent and have vowed to use him this season, especially after Zifa released a statement saying Mhlanga was no longer a Chicken Inn player.
Last week, Chicken Inn wrote to the Sports and Recreation Commission and also copied the letter to Zifa, Caf and FC Platinum’s preliminary round opponents Deportivo de Agosto of Angola, complaining that Zifa had erred in clearing a player whose status had not been determined by the relevant committee.
FC Platinum spokesperson Chido Chizondo yesterday said they were guided by Zifa’s last correspondence on the matter, where the local football governing body declared Mhlanga a free agent.
Yesterday FC Platinum announced a 27-man squad that will challenge for honours in the Caf Champions League early next month.
There are no major changes in the squad as Mapeza kept faith in many of the players who helped FC Platinum break the Harare-Bulawayo stranglehold on the Castle Lager Premiership.
Former Harare City utility man Edwin Madhananga is the only new inclusion who comes in as a direct replacement for Nqobizitha Masuku who left for Zambian outfit Buildcon, while Liberty Chakoroma, who had been included in the provisional squad, was omitted.
Former Highlanders skipper Rahman Kutsanzira and Jameson Mukombwe are also part of the pack that will fight for honours in the African safari.
The platinum miners are set to mark their second stint in the African safari after they took part in the Confederations Cup in 2015 where they were booted out by El Merreikh of Sudan.
Along the way as Mapeza aimed to fine-tune his charges, veteran striker Takesure Chinyama and Brian Muzondiwa, who both spent the better part of last season on the sidelines, were shown the exit door, while workhorse linkman Gerald Takwara left for South African Premiership side, Ajax Cape Town.
Regular right full-back Ian Nekati was also excluded since he declined to sign a new contract.
The two foreigners – Cameroonian Albert Eonde and Zambian Shadreck Mayembe – are expected to tussle for positions with 2017 Soccer Star of the Year Rodwell Chinyengetere, Charles Sibanda, Mkhokheli Dube and Gift Mbweti upfront.
Nigel Papias, who was recalled from a loan spell at Bantu Rovers, completes the FC Platinum strike-force.
Chizondo said based on the deliberations with the technical team, they were confident that the squad would bring glory.
“I can confirm that we have submitted the final squad to represent FC Platinum in the Champions League to Caf,” she said.
“This was based on the deliberations we had with the coaches. They are satisfied that this squad will be competitive and also hope that they will bring glory back home.”
The Zvishavane side will begin their Caf expedition on the weekend of February 9-11 away to Angolan outfit Desportivo Lero Agosto.
FC Platinum squad
Goalkeepers: Francis Tizayi, Petros Mhari, Wallace Magalane, Collin Phiri
Defenders: Rapheal Mudiviwa, Jameson Mukombwe, Elvis Moyo, Kelvin Moyo, William Sitima, Gift Bello, Lawrence Mhlanga
Midfielders: Winston Mhango, Never Tigere, Kelvin Madzongwe, Marshal Mudehwe, Hillary Bakacheza, Rahman Kutsanzira, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Bret Amidu, Ali Sadiki, Edwin Madhananga
Strikers: Mkhokeli Dube, Gift Mbweti, Albert Eonde, Shadreck Mayembe, Nigel Papias, Charles Sibanda