BY HENRY MHARA
FC PLATINUM captain Petros Mhari has said the team is still haunted by its elimination from the Caf Champions League, but determined to put that “horrible experience” behind them with a good run in the Caf Confederations
The local soccer champions host Senegalese side ASC Jaraaf in the two teams’ first-ever meeting at the National Sports Stadium in Harare tomorrow afternoon after they dropped to the lower-tier competition following their exit from the continental premier club competition.
The Norman Mapeza-coached side missed the chance to play in the Champions League after a 4-1 aggregate defeat to Tanzanian side Simba SC.
Their exit from the tournament was without controversy though as the Zvishavane-based side claimed that their opponents used all the dirty tricks in the book to get a win.
FC Platinum had won the first leg 1-0 at home before collapsing in the second leg away.
They have a chance to atone for that dismal performance though with a good run in the Confederations Cup which they begin with a play-off first leg match tomorrow.
Mhari said his team would not repeat the mistakes they made against Simba SC when they dominated the home match, but only managed to score a single goal which was easily overturned in the return match.
“The loss to Simba still lingers in the back of our minds,” the goalkeeper said.
“We learnt a lesson from that defeat that in these kind of matches, you need to kill off matches when you get the chance to do so. We will be playing at home, so we will try to score as many goals as possible to make our job easier going into the reverse fixture.”
Mhari was one of the five players who were barred from participating in that ill-tempered second leg match in Tanzania after returning positive results of COVID-19.
The club claimed the hosts tampered with the testing process.
“It was a horrible experience for us, but which we need to put behind us. It was unfortunate for us, but like I said, there were some lessons we took from it, which we will use going forward. Playing in Africa is tough and we need to toughen up,” Mhari said.
He is anticipating a tough match from the West Africans. ASC Jaraaf are no push-overs as they currently lead their national premier league log standings.
The fact that they have been playing competitive football as their national league is running, compared to FC Platinum, gives them an edge in this one.
“It will be a tough match for us. Our league has not been running for a year now and it will contribute in the way we will perform. But we can’t do anything about it because that is the situation that we are in. We have to adjust and try to do our best. We have worked so hard under the circumstances and I am confident that we will post a good result.”
FC Platinum will go into the match heavily hamstrung after star striker Perfect Chikwende left to join Simba SC while two stars Rahman Kutsanzira and William Stima are
“It’s a big blow that he (Chikwende) left but we don’t rely on one person. I believe the guys that joined are able replacements and will do the job for us. The new players have brought new things into the team. We now have depth,” Mhari said.
Some of the players that joined FC Platinum last month include the returning duo of Donald Ngoma and Rodwell Chinyengetere, Donald Teguru and Blessing Moyo.
The second leg is set for Sunday next week, with the aggregate winner qualifying for the group stages of the Caf Confederations Cup.