FC PLATINUM coach Norman Mapeza comes under the spotlight today as he leads the Zimbabwe champions against hosts CNaPS of Madagascar in the Caf Champions League preliminary round, first leg match, to be played at Centre des Loisirs de la CNaPs in Vontorovona.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
After failing twice to reach the group stages in continental club football which includes the second-tier Caf Confederations Cup tournament, Mapeza naturally has to make a convincing case of his credentials.
However, the former Zimbabwe national soccer team captain takes comfort in the fact that the Malagasy champions have been perennial strugglers in the Champions League.
They have failed to surpass the preliminary stage in their last three attempts.
A win away to CNaPs will be a massive boost for the two-time Zimbabwe champions, who will need to overcome their opponents at home in the return leg set for December 4, to be sure of advancing to the next stage of the campaign.
FC Platinum have set themselves a target of reaching the lucrative group stage of the tournament.
Mapeza and his lieutenants will be counting on the inspirational pair of Rodwell Chinyengetere and Kelvin Moyo, who have been enjoying fine form on the local front.
But they will have to do without their two influential forwards, Rahman Kutsanzira and Ali Sadiki, who could not travel due to injuries.
There is so much expectation in the FC Platinum camp that the Mapeza-coached side must have learnt valuable lessons in the past campaigns and should go all the way.
In all their previous appearances, the miners have been at the receiving end of the competition, the latest being their humiliating 5-1 defeat at the hands of Premiero Agosto of Angola early this year.
In 2012, then under Rahman Gumbo, they were given a reality check in the demanding continental club football after completing back-to-back defeats at the hands of Sudanese giants El Merrikh.
Their maiden campaign ended with a 5-1 loss on aggregate in the preliminary round. But this is another chance for Mapeza to prove his pedigree in Africa after he also led FC Platinum to the 2015 Confederation Cup exit following a 5-2 aggregate scoreline loss to Young Africans of Tanzania.