BY HENRY MHARA
FC PLATINUM are happy with their Confederation of African Football Champions League campaign, despite making little impression in the group stages and have assured coach Norman Mapeza that his job is safe.
There have been reports from Zvishavane suggesting that the FC Platinum top hierarchy is divided over the former Warriors coach following an unimpressive campaign where the league champions are still to score a goal in four group stage matches.
On one side, the sources said, is a group who feel Mapeza needs more time to build a team that can compete with the best on the continent.
Others feel that he has been given enough time, and despite dominating the local league, where he won the championship twice in consecutive years, his critics feel, he is not the right person to lead the team on the African safari.
The team’s dismal failure, where they crashed out of the continental’s premier club competition with two games remaining, have given this group more ammunition.
Mapeza’s history with FC Platinum in the African safari, where he has been ruthlessly exposed, makes his situation worse off. Murmurs of disgruntlement are ringing loud from this camp, with his rivals pushing for assistant coach Lizwe Sweswe to be given a chance.
As they prepare for their last group matches, away to Orlando Pirates and at home against ES Tunis next month, two games of little significance in terms of the club’s ambitions, team spokesperson Chido Chizondo yesterday said they are happy with the team’s performance in Africa.
Asked if Mapeza’s job is safe, Chizondo was emphatic in her response: “Very safe. I think this (rumour) happens every year.”
Chizondo said reaching the group stages is good enough for FC Platinum.
“It is good to win matches, however, our target, if you remember, was to reach the group stages, which we did. We will push to ensure positive results in the coming fixtures. We have learnt many lessons in the Champions League,” she said.
FC Platinum’s group stage campaign has been poor, only managing a point against Pirates, before losing their next three matches to ES Tunis of Tunisia and back to back defeats against Horoya of Guinea.
Their next match is away to Orlando Pirates on March 8, and has a 9pm kick-off.
They will then host ES Tunis at their home ground Mandava Stadium a week later, which was this week approved by the Confederations of African Football to host the competition matches.
A letter written to Zifa by Caf reads: “With regards to the inspection visit conducted by Caf for the Barbourfields Stadium, Mandava Stadium and National Sports Stadium, we
would like to inform you that Caf has decided to provisionally approve the Mandava Stadium. The stadium will be available to host the remaining matches of FC Platinum during their participation in the 2018/19 Caf Champions League. Caf will continue to monitor the stadium situation during the next matches in order to ensure that the stadium is brought to the required level.”
Areas that Caf picked for improvement include the playing surface and refurbishments of the teams and match officials’ dressing rooms.
Mapeza’s side were forced to host Orlando Pirates and Horoya at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo, and they are naturally happy that their stadium has been approved to enable them to play in front of their fans.
“We are naturally excited to host the match in Zvishavane, it’s an opportunity to play in our home ground in front of our supporters. We wish they had done so earlier. We would have preferred to play Horoya and
Pirates at Mandava. However, we will not dwell on that,” Chizondo said.