BY HENRY MHARA
FC Platinum (Zim) …………..0
ASC Jaraaf (Senegal) …. (0)1
FC PLATINUM left themselves with a huge mountain to climb in their bid to qualify for the group stages of the Caf Confederations Cup after they fell to visiting Senegalese side SC Jaraaf in the competition’s play-off first leg match at the National Sports Stadium yesterday.
Albert Diene’s tap-in on the 70th minute was all that the visitors needed to record the crucial away win ahead of the second leg in Dakar at the weekend.
The Zimbabwean champions, who missed two glorious chances in the match which included a penalty, will now need to outscore their opponents away to make it to the group stages of the competition.
Silas Songani failed to beat ASC Jaraaf goalkeeper Pape Ndiaye from 12 yards with his low shot from the spot saved well, while Gift Bello failed from a yard away with the last kick of the match.
With Ndiaye well-beaten, the defender inexplicably failed to turn in a pass from Donald Dombo. Instead, he hit the upright post to sum up the home side’s tepid afternoon.
The Norman Mapeza-coached side dropped to the continental lower-tier competition following their exit from the Caf Champions League after a 4-1 aggregate defeat to Simba SC.
Desperate to atone for that humiliating exit from the continental premier club competition, FC Platinum looked like they were up to it and could have scored inside the opening minute.
However, Donald Teguru, one of the club’s new acquisitions, thrown straight into the line-up, reacted a second slower to a Gift Mbweti’s cross and the chance went begging.
They were given a golden opportunity to take the lead when referee Victor Gomes of South Africa pointed to the spot on the 24th minute after Mbweti was hacked inside the box.
Songani, who had a quiet game, stepped up and aimed to his left, but the shot lacked the needed power to beat Ndiaye, who made a comfortable block.
Ndiaye was called to make another save six minutes later to deny Teguru, which was the second and only other shot on target in the first half for FC Platinum.
This was despite them enjoying the lion’s share of possession against a side that was clearly content on sitting back and frustrate their opponents.
There was more urgency from the home side at the beginning of the second half, but they still struggled to create meaningful chances.
Left back Nomore Chinyerere came close to finding the breakthrough on the 55th minute, but his stinging shot was blocked back into play by an alert Ndiaye and the rebound found no takers.
When it looked like the hosts would find the breakthrough, they were hit on a counter.
After Mbweti had lost possession easily, a ball was looped over the defence to release Babacar Seck, who beat an off-side trap. The midfielder squared for Diene who rolled the ball into an empty net.
It could have been worse for Mapeza’s men, but Petros Mhari made two good saves to deny substitutes Ousmane Sagna and Papa Paye.
But FC Platinum had a golden chance to at least grab a draw at the death when Donald Ngoma, who was off colour in his first match on his return to the club, went behind the defence.
The striker, who could have scored himself decided to pass the responsibility to Bello, who could only turn the ball to the upright, leaving his side with an uphill task to reverse the score in a weeks’ time.
FC Platinum: P Mhari, G Bello, L Mhlanga, N Chinyerere, G Mbweti, K Madzongwe, R Pavari (I Mucheneka, 46’), B Banda, D Teguru (D Chinyengetere, 74’), S Songani (R Muduviwa, 46’), D Ngoma
ASC Jaraaf: P Ndiaye, E Kane, A Diene, M Ndiaye, P Ndiaye, B Seck, M Sylla, S Sissokho, J Bokande, M Diallo, A Tendeng
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