BY HENRY MHARA
A NUMBER of FC Platinum players and officials were forced to remain behind in Tanzania after testing positive to COVID-19.
The league champions had travelled to the East African nation for a Caf Champions League match against hosts Simba Stars on Wednesday.
The Zimbabwe representatives were beaten 4-0 in controversial circumstances though, to crash out of the campaign on a 4-1 aggregate.
Their woes have deepened further after it emerged that the club was forced to leave some of its players and officials behind after they contracted COVID-19 virus.
FC Platinum spokesperson Chido Chizondo confirmed that six players and three officials did not board the plane back home yesterday because of positive COVID-19 results.
But she could not disclose their names because of “the stigma that has been attached to COVID-19”.
“They have no symptoms. They are all looking OK. But they will remain behind and be isolated for 10 days. They will be tested again before they leave, so we expect them back home next week. We have made arrangements for their stay and welfare. We are also grateful to the Zimbabwean embassy in Tanzania who have been providing us with the necessary help,” Chizondo said.
Goalkeeper and captain Petros Mhari, Silas Songani, Lawrence Mhlanga and Rainsome Pavari are some of the regular players who travelled to Tanzania, but did not feature in the match.
Reports suggest that the quartet was chalked off the starting line-up just hours before kick-off after COVID-19 tests done on the delegation had returned positive results.
The team underwent COVID-19 tests before the match as demanded by the Confederations of African Football (Caf).
The club disputed the results which had their five players and three officials returning positive and ruled out of the Simba Stars match.
They asked for another round of tests after the match, which also confirmed the initial positive tests. The second round of tests saw a sixth player also returning a positive result.
The player did not feature in the match.
FC Platinum are crying foul, saying that the results of the COVID-19 tests were only availed to them a few hours before kick-off.
As a result, coach Norman Mapeza was forced to make last-minute changes to his starting line-up.
The Zvishavane-based side was also not happy with the manner the match was officiated after the hosts were awarded a controversial first-half penalty when the scores were still goalless.
They went on to make a credible second-half collapse in a 4-0 defeat which saw them dropping to the Caf Confederations Cup.
They will face Senegalese side ASC Jaraaf in the second preliminary round after a draw conducted in Cairo, Egypt, yesterday.
They will host the first leg on February 14 in Harare before travelling to Dakar a week later for the second leg. The winner of this contest will qualify for the Confederations Cup group stages.
Mapeza was first to leave Dar es Salam on Thursday following the death of his father, who was laid to rest in Harare yesterday.
The other delegation was set to leave Dar-es Salam at 1745hrs yesterday and were expected in Harare early this morning.
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