ZIMBABWE champions FC Platinum are satisfied with their Confederation of African Football Champions League draw saying it was better than it could have been.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
Club chairperson Evans Mtombeni said the draw favoured them as they didn’t want to be drawn against more than one team from North Africa because of complex travelling logistics.
The Zimbabwean champions were drawn in Group B which includes Tunisian champions Esperance, Orlando Pirates (South Africa) and Horoya from Guinea.
In the 2017 campaign, Harare giants Caps United were drawn against three teams from North Africa, Zamalek of Egypt, Al Ahly Tripoli of Libya who were playing in Tunisia and US Algiers.
“The least we wanted was to be drawn against more than one team from North Africa because of difficulties in travelling. It’s also difficult to play in North Africa, so it (the draw) is better than it could have been,” Mthombeni said.
The FC Platinum boss however, acknowledged they were paired against some of the best teams in Africa and would have to work hard to acquit themselves. He however, said they were ready to compete.
“In terms of the draw, it’s not an easy group, we are just hoping for the best and we are going there not to make up the numbers but to compete.
“These are part of Africa’s best and they are the teams you face when you qualify for group stages.
“If we remain united like we were in the earlier stages, we can get something positive and possibly proceed to the next level which is the quarter finals,” he said.
Esperance and Pirates are seasoned campaigners in the continent’s premier club competition having won the coveted tournament before and pose a real threat to FC Platinum’s bid to reach the quarter finals.
Zimbabweans still have sad memories of 2006, when Esperance of Tunisia with a star studded squad that included Nigerian international Julius Agahowa walloped Highlanders 6-0, while Dynamos were also handed a harsh football lesson in a 6-1 demolition to bow out of the competition.
FC Platinum will get their campaign underway in the group stage with a home game against Orlando Pirates between 11-13 January before embarking on a trip to face Esperance of Tunisia between 18 and 20. They will host Horoya between February 1 and3 with the return leg scheduled for February 12-14.
They will then travel to South Africa for the return leg against Pirates between 8-10 March before concluding their group stages with a home date against Esperance on 17 March.