BY TERRY MADYAUTA IN JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
FC Platinum will be looking to take advantage of a fatigued Orlando Pirates side hoping to collect their first set of maximum points in a Group B clash of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Champions League tonight.
The Zimbabwe champions have no chance of making it into the quarter-finals of the competition with just a single point from four matches, but their clash remains important, as they seek to restore lost pride.
Norman Mapeza’s side is yet to score a goal at this stage of the competition and their only point so far came against Pirates in the opening match in January, where they played a goalless draw.
They have been reduced to a laughing stock, with rivals’ fans making fun of the Zvishavane-based side’s poor run of form in the group stages.
Mapeza wants to see his side approach this match with a positive mind and the club’s morale may have been boosted by news that their opponents have been affected by fatigue following a packed domestic schedule.
Coach Milutin Sredojevic told KickOff that his players had been burned out.
“Fatigue factor is, of course, there, because we’re having some test we’re doing and if I tell you that three players could not even conduct the test, which means they’ve already given everything and could almost collapse,” he told KickOff.
“But we are using all possible means to find ways to recover, refresh and recuperate them to be ready for Friday (today)’s game.”
Unlike Platinum, Pirates still have a chance to make it to the next stage.
Having lost three of their away matches, Pure Platinum Play see this as an opportunity to break the bad run.
Their endeavours suffered a blow after striker Lameck Nhamo was ruled out of the clash due to illness.
Having left out Cameroonian forward Albert Eonde, Charles Sibanda and Gift Mbweti, their options upfront are limited for tonight’s clash.
Mapeza could thrust Mkhokheli Dube and Thomas Chideu upfront, with Rahman Kutsanzira and Ali Sadiki likely to operate from the wings.
Newboy Perfect Chikwende could make his debut for the platinum miners.
“Our preparations have gone so well and now, we are polishing up and the morale is high in the camp, we just hope to perform better than the last games,” Mapeza said yesterday.
“We really need to have a positive mind in this game. We worked on speeds and sprints, which gives us an idea of the players’ recovery and almost every area that needed to be improved.”
He said that they are not paying attention to what has been said about their team.
“A lot has been said, but we have to remain focused on our game. We played to a draw in the reverse fixture back home and I hope we can up our game when we play them at their home ground,” Mapeza said.
“We are a young club and also learning a lot from this experience. Both of us in the technical team and the players are getting important lessons from these games.
“The hope is that we get one or two goals, but we cannot determine the type (of football) we will play. We will have to adjust considering that we will be playing at night, which is unlike what we are used to back home.
“We have also been training under flood lights so that we get used to playing under those conditions because this game will be played at night.”
Petros Mhari, Kelvin Moyo, Elvis Moyo, Raphael Mudiviwa, Gift Bello, Never Tigere, Rainsome Pavari, Ali Sadiki, Perfect Chikwende, Kelvin Madzongwe, Mkokheli Dube