ZIMBABWE champions FC Platinum battled from a goal down to force a draw away to Congo Brazzaville champions AS Otoho in a Caf Champions League first round, first leg played at Stade Marien Ngauab yesterday.
BY SPORTS REPORTER
The draw kept alive their dream of reaching the lucrative group stage of Africa’s premier club competition.
The hosts enjoyed possession in the first half and raced into the lead on the 22nd minute, when Botamba found the target following a goal-mouth scramble.
However, that lead proved temporary as defender William Sitima levelled matters with a stunning free kick on the 47th minute.
The home team, however, kept probing, hoping to kill off the contest, but to their credit, the Zimbabwe champions remained resolute. In the end, they shared the spoils.
More importantly, the away goal will come in handy for FC Platinum as they go into the return leg in Zvishavane next week, needing at least a goalless draw to reach the group stage for the first time.
Norman Mapeza’s men have struggled to reach the group stage in the African safari as they were booted out by Young Africans of Tanzania in the second tier Confederation Cup before being knocked out by Angolan side De Agosto in the last campaign.
However, yesterday’s result kept them on the verge.
Otoho, who have not tasted defeat at home since January 2017, knocked out Agosto of Luanda in the preliminary round after beating them 2-0 at home to go through on the away goals rule after losing the first-leg 4-2 in Luanda.
FC Platinum overcame Madagascar champions 2-1 on aggregate, having forced a 1-1 draw away before seeing them off 1-0 in the return leg at Mandava.
The return leg at Mandava Stadium is scheduled for December 22, with the draw for the group games taking place six days later.
Group stage matches will be played from January 11 to March 15, with the quarter-finals coming between April 5 and April 12.
Platinum starting 11:
Petros Mhari, Lawrence Mhlanga, Gift Bello, William Stima, Devon Chafa, Kelvin Madzongwe, Elvis Moyo, Farai Madhananga, Gift Mbweti, Lameck Nhamo, Rodwell Chinyengetere