FC Platinum’s celebrations for reaching the group phase of the Caf Champions League have been overshadowed by the unprecedented incident where coach Norman Mapeza assaulted team vice-captain Gift Bello in the full view of the club executive members, Zifa officials and fans.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
The championship-winning coach did the unthinkable as he beat up a seemingly drunk Bello, who had jumped from the stands to join his partying teammates after they stormed into the lucrative group stages of the tournament following a nervy 0-0 stalemate against Congolese side, AS Otoho.
This, however, did not go down well with some of the players who have urged the executive to act and bring back sanity between Mapeza and Bello.
“We just want to have a peaceful environment at our team. In this kind of situation, we hope and pray that the club take necessary action to solve this matter so that it won’t happen again,” one player said.
The club yesterday offered an apology on Mapeza’s barbaric actions at the weekend
“We wish to apologise to our valued supporters and stakeholders for the altercation that took place involving our head coach Noman Mapeza and Gift Bello after the match against AS Otoho.
“While full investigation to ascertain what triggered the scuffle are still being conducted, FC Platinum will make it abundantly clear that it does not condone any acts of violence at any level as it is not a reflection of our values and ethos.
“Our commitment to our stakeholders is to continue being a brand of choice and be the Zimbabwean flagship for African football,” the club said in a statement.
On Saturday, FC Platinum needed a nil-all draw or a win by any margin for them to qualify after they had held the Congolese opponents to a one-all away draw in the reverse fixture.
The reigning Premier Soccer League champions have joined the club of elites that include Dynamos, Highlanders, Caps United and the now-defunct Monomotapa to reach the group phase of the Champions League. The miners also become the first team outside of the Harare and Bulawayo to achieve that feat.
They now await the Caf draw which will determine their opponents in the group stages, where they will play six matches. Dynamos class of 1998 remain the most successful squad in Zimbabwe, after they reached the final where they controversially lost to Asec Mimosas of Ivory Coast.
Last year, Caps United had a good run in the group stage, although they failed to progress further.