BY Fortune Mbele
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza is fighting hard to douse the raging flames triggered by his team selection in their Caf Champions League Group B match against Guinea’s Horoya at Barbourfields Stadium where the home side lost 1-0. The result dented the team’s hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of Africa’s premier club tournament.
With most of the narrative, if not all, blaming Mapeza for a negative approach, the former Warriors coach was fighting his corner, defending himself and trying to convince anybody who cared to listen that he was looking to be positive on Sunday despite a three-men defensive midfield that consisted of Devon Chafa, Kevin Madzongwe and Edwin Madhananga.
In his defence, Mapeza subtly alluded to a problem in creativity in the country.
“For us, we now have a huge mountain to climb, but for me, it’s a good experience. We just have to keep working hard and see what happens in the next games. I can’t say we were very cautious (in the game against Horoya). We wanted to play an open game. You can’t say we were too defensive or too open. It’s unfortunate they caught us on the counter and we conceded that penalty, but we wanted to win the match. There was no way we were going to sit and defend,” Mapeza said.
FC Platinum are still without a goal and a win after three matches and have a single point compared to Orlando Pirates and Esperance with five each, while Horoya have four.
Their next match is a long trip to Conakry on February 12, before crossing the Limpopo River to face Orlando Pirates.
They conclude the group phase by hosting African champions Esperance of Tunisia in March.
The goalless draw between Orlando Pirates and Esperance on Sunday night gave FC Platinum a glimmer of hope. However, they made their life difficult by failing to win their two home matches.
After falling to Horoya on Sunday, Mapeza said an insurmountable task awaited them going ahead.
FC Platinum’s lack of creativity in attack has left Mapeza with many questions to answer after baffling fans with a starting line-up dominated by defence-minded players on a day they needed to attack from the onset.
Mapeza kept Lameck Nhamo on the bench and preferred Charles Sibanda at the point of attack, but once he introduced the former in the second half, FC Platinum looked to have more impetus.
FC Platinum also looked more ambitious once they had Ali Sadiki and Albert Eonde on the field, raising questions about Mapeza’s team selection and set-up.
Mapeza, however, said the burden of scoring goals did not lie sorely lie on strikers.
“We don’t want to burden to strikers alone. Football is played by 11 players. If we talk about strikers only, I don’t think we are solving any problem. This is collective effort, but we have been working so hard on the creativity in the final third and create opportunities. It is work in progress; it’s a challenge. If you look at our African leagues at the moment, most countries are having problems with strikers. Look at the South African league, now they have gone for 18 matches and the leading scorer has scored eight goals. I think it’s just a crisis we are having in Africa at the moment.”