BY TERRY MADYAUTA
FC PLATINUM coach Norman Mapeza was left purring on the performance of debutant Perfect Tatenda Chikwende, who starred for the Zvishavane side in their 2-2 draw against Orlando Pirates in a Caf Champions League Group B encounter at Orlando Stadium in South Africa on Friday night.
The former Bulawayo Chiefs forward gave the Orlando Pirates defenders a torrid time with his menacing on and off the ball movements.
The 24-year-old provided the assist for his team’s second goal, a perfect cross which was turned home by Rainsome Pavari.
Chikwende was chosen ahead of regulars Mkokheli Dube, Lameck Nhamo and Gift Mbweti as Mapeza shuffled his front line in search of a goal that had eluded his side in four of their group stages matches. Here, he got two.
“I normally do not want to give credit to one player because we play as a team, but Chikwende was just outstanding for us. I hope his form will continue even when the local league commences later on this month,” Mapeza said.
“We brought him at FC Platinum because we knew he was talented and a good fit for our team. I expected it, but what made this special is the fact that he rose to the occasion on his debut by providing an assist. We had confidence in the player and it was a good decision to include him ahead some of the old faces.”
FC Platinum’s performance also elated Orlando Pirates coach Milutin Sredojevic, who admitted that they had been taught a lesson by the Zimbabwean champions.
“From the two games we played against them, we have received a wake-up call that we seriously need to improve. This team has something special and I can tell you that they will be stronger with time. They have just been unfortunate to be out-scored in these games, but they have been outplaying us. From the way they play, you can tell that their tactics are not ordinary. They are tactically astute,” he said.
Meanwhile, FC Platinum returned to their base in Zvishavane yesterday and are set to regroup ahead of the final Group B clash against Esperance Tunis at the weekend.
With nothing left to play for, FC Platinum will now shift their attention to their title defence as the local league is set to commence at the end of the month.