BY HENRY MHARA
FC PLATINUM coach Norman Mapeza has returned to work, and will lead the Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions when they travel to Malawi this week for the Caf Champions League preliminary round first leg match against Kalisto Pasuwa’s Nyasa Big Bullets.
Mapeza missed the team’s past two league matches against Black Rhinos and Caps United due to illness.
In his absence, the team lost 1-0 to Rhinos and were held to a goalless draw by Caps United, and their struggles were giving the club’s fans sleepless nights ahead of the tricky trip to Big Bullets.
The club’s spokesperson Chido Chizondo has allayed the fears, saying Mapeza has fully recovered and was back at training yesterday as the team intensified their preparations for the Saturday match.
“We are happy he is back and in good health as we prepare for the match against Nyasa Big Bullets at the weekend,” Chizondo said.
The two-time PSL champions are seeking to reach the quarter-finals of the continent’s premier club competition this year, having seen their campaign end at the group stages in their last appearance this year.
They host the Big Bullets next week at Mandava Stadium, and if they can go past the Malawians, FC Platinum will face either Simba FC of Tanzania or Uniao Desportiva do Songo of Mozambique in the next stage, with the winner qualifying to the group stage of the competition.
Mapeza will attempt to achieve the feat with a rebuilt squad after the departure of some key players from the team.
The Moyo twins, Elvis and Kelvin left for Chippa United in South Africa, while Farai Madhanhanga also joined the trek down south. The midfielder was confirmed at Bidvest Wits last week.
Ali Sadiki has moved to Zambia and Godknows Murwira has joined Dynamos on loan until the end of the season.
All these players played a pivotal role in the team’s previous African Safari expedition.
The Zvishavane-based team has acquired players from league rivals, while also promoting youngsters from their developmental team, FC Platinum Under-19.
In a 28-member list submitted to Caf last week, there were seven new faces including left back Tawana Chikore who was recently signed from league debutants, TelOne, together with promising centre back Evidence Tendayi, who joined from Herentals.
The platinum miners also registered the Democratic Republic of Congo winger Guyve Mawete Nsilia together with Panashe Mutimbanyoka, Keith Madera, Guyve Mawete Nsilia and Kelvin Mangiza, who were promoted from their U-19 side.
Returning Rodwell Chinyengetere is also back and was also registered.
Caf Champions league squad
Goalkeepers: Petros Mhari, Wallace Magalane, Francis Tizayi
Defenders: William Stima, Gift Bello, Raphael Muduviwa, Evidence Tendayi, Tawana Chikore, Kelvin Mangiza, Lawrence Mhlanga, Gift Mbweti
Midfielders: Rodwell Chinyengetere, Never Tigere, Guvye Mawete Nsiala, Devon Chafa, Rainsome Pavari. Rahaman Kutsanzira, Kelvin Madzongwe, Hagiazo Magaya, Panashe Mutimbanyoka, Keith Madera
Forwards: Mkhokeli Dube, Albert Eonde, Lameck Nhamo, Perfect Chikwende