FC PLATINUM coach Norman Mapeza officially makes a grand return to the miners’ technical bench looking to pick up from where he left.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA
On his first arrival, the main brief was to win a league title that had eluded the club since promotion despite huge investment.
He accomplished the mission and to make a bold statement, repeated the feat before he sought new pastures.
The club added another championship silverware under Lizwe Sweswe and as Mapeza returns, the brief and ambition has since shifted from success on home soil as the Zvishavane-based side looks to improve on an otherwise dismal record in the group stages of the Caf Champions League, where they have never progressed beyond the group stages.
In his first media engagement on return, Mapeza refused to be drawn into discussing what the set targets were.
In fact, he claimed there were no targets as he attempted to bat away pressure, but let that not fool anyone.
Everyone knows that FC Platinum now want to at least reach the knockout stages of the premier continental competition and would have made it clear to the former Warriors captain.
But he comes back under some of the most difficult conditions following the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He leads a side that only started training together a few weeks ago since March.
Yesterday, he announced a predictable 22-man squad for their preliminary round first leg match against Mozambican opponents CD Costa do Sol, with the bulk of the new signings finding their places in the team.
The Zvishavane side takes on the Maputo-based side at Zimpeto National Stadium.
Mapeza returned to the Zvishavane side last week, taking over from Hiendrikus Pieter De Jongh who was pushed out since he was not qualified to lead the platinum miners in the continental sojourn.
The former Warriors gaffer will hope to navigate past Costa do Sol and has assembled a squad that looks formidable on paper.
Captain Petros Mhari leads the squad and his recent experience will be needed as they face Costa Do Sol, whose players boast vast international experience.
Winger Silas Songani is also expected to play a key role in the FC Platinum forward line.
Songani gave a glimmer of what he could offer to the club when he notched a brace that helped FC Platinum retain the Castle Challenge Cup early this year.
Tanzanian centre-forward Elias Maguri is also expected to be a vital cog in the team’s strike force, and although he has not really shown his quality, Mapeza and his lieutenants felt the lofty forward would help his side bamboozle defenders with his big frame.
Veteran defender Gift Bello, who has enjoyed every bit of FC Platinum’s success in recent times, has been included in the travelling squad together with steely former Triangle defender Donald Dzvinyai, and could form a impenetrable backline, with Tawanda Chikore and Raphael Muduviwa operating as left and right full-backs, respectively.
Ralph Kawondera, an impressive midfielder, is expected to add more impetus with his creativity and pace to Mapeza’s forward line.
Former Highlanders pair of Brian Banda and Denzel Khumalo also travel to Maputo as is defender Lawrence Mhlanga.
One notable absentee is Democratic Republic of Congo winger Guyve Nsiala, but his compatriot Ellie ILunga will hope to debut in Mozambique.
Goalkeepers: Petros Mhari, Francis Tizayi, Future Sibanda
Defenders: Gift Bello, Evidence Tendayi, Tawana Chikore, Lawrence Mhlanga, William Stima, Raphael Muduviwa, Nomore Chinyerere, Donald Dzvinyai.
Midfielders: Kelvin Madzongwe, Brian Banda, Denzel Khumalo, Rainsome Pavari, Ralph Kawondera, Gift Mbweti, Rahman Kutsanzira, Silas Songani
Strikers: Perfect Chikwende, Ellie ILunga, Elias Maguri