Blame it on rust: Mapeza

BY HENRY MHARA

FC PLATINUM coach Norman Mapeza has blamed lack of match fitness for his team’s Sunday defeat to ASC Jaraaf, which left Zimbabwe champions’ chances of qualifying for the group stages of the Caf Confederations Cup in tatters.

The platinum miners went down 0-1 to the Senegalese team.

The Zvishavane side spurned two good chances, including a missed first half penalty and were made to rue when Albert Diene scored a precious away goal on the 70th minute to give his side an advantage going into the return leg of the play-off tie in Dakar at the weekend.

Winger Silas Songani could not beat goalkeeper Pape Ndiaye from 10 metres as his kick from the penalty spot was saved, while defender Gift Bello failed to put the ball at the back of the net at the

death.

The result left FC Platinum with a huge mountain to climb as they now have to outscore their opponents to make it to the group stages of the competition.

Mapeza refused to fault his players for the defeat, instead blaming it on lack of competitive practice matches to fine tune their preparations.

“We had chances (to score) and I can’t fault the boys who worked hard. The guys have not been playing football for quite some time, so the sharpness is not there. I’m sure if we were playing football regularly, with those missed chances, we could have buried one or two,” Mapeza said.

FC Platinum have not been playing football for over a year after sporting activities were suspended by the government to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The team was only allowed to regroup to prepare for their matches in the Caf Champions League. They were eliminated from the continent’s premier club competition by Simba SC of Tanzania on a 4-1 aggregate scoreline.

They dropped to the continental lower-tier competition as a result, where they are also on the brink of exiting. Mapeza believes his squad can overturn the result and qualify to the next stage.

“We just have to go there and do our best. They (ASC Jaraaf) lost 1-0 against a team from Ivory Coast (in the first leg of the previous round). But they went to Ivory Coast and won. So we still have a chance. We just need to go and polish up what went wrong,” Mapeza added.

But for FC Platinum to have a chance to upset the Senegalese in their backyard, many of their players, especially new arrivals will have to up their game.

Save for Blessing Moyo, all the other new acquisitions were given time to impress with striker Donald Ngoma and midfielder Donald Teguru handed debuts in the starting line-up, while Innocent Mucheneka and Rodwell Chinyengetere were second half substitutes.

Except for Mucheneka, who brought some urgency to the team’s attack when he came on, his fellow new acquisitions were not up to scratch.

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