BY HENRY MHARA
DESPITE carrying an advantage ahead of their Caf Confederations Cup second leg group stage qualifier, Senegalese side ASC Jaraaf are still wary of Zimbabwean champions FC Platinum.
According to the team captain Madické Kane, even though they won 1-nill in Harare, the toughest part of the qualifier is yet to come.
The Senegalese rode their luck in the play-off first leg match at the National Sports Stadium in Harare on Sunday before nicking a 1-0 away victory.
The Zimbabwean champions spurned two good chances, including from the penalty spot and were made to rue that when Albert Diene scored a precious away goal on the 70th minute to give the West Africans an advantage going into the return leg this weekend.
Kane admitted that they were lucky to collect maximum points in Harare.
The two teams meet on Sunday in the decisive second leg at the Lat Dior Stadium in Thiès, just outside capital Dakar.
“The match was very difficult, but we are delighted to have been able to win the three points,” Kane told the Senegalese media yesterday. “In the first half, our team block was quite deep. It was when we returned from the locker room that the coach asked us to take them higher with a pressing to prevent them from developing their game. In the second half, they pumped all their balls upfront. They tried a long ball due to our pressing,” he added.
FC Platinum missed a golden opportunity to score when winger Silas Songani’s first half penalty kick was saved by goalkeeper Pape Ndiaye before defender Gift Bello failed to put the ball in the back of the net from just outside the box at the death.
The result left FC Platinum with a huge mountain to climb as they now have to outscore their opponent to make it to the group stages of the competition.
While Jaraaf are pre-match favourites, Kane is predicting a tough match against the Norman Mapeza-coached side.
A draw is enough for the Senegalese to progress to the group stages. However, Kane said they will go out for an outright win.
“Now that we have had a good result away, we still have to make sure that we win the second match to validate the qualification for the group stages. The objective remains the same for Jaraaf: To win the championship (Ligue 1) and to qualify for the group stage phase of the Caf Confederations Cup,” he said.
FC Platinum arrived in Dakar on Wednesday ahead of the match. Mapeza, who refused to fault his players for the first leg defeat, remains optimistic that his team can overturn the defeat.
“We just have to go out 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 (in the first leg),” Mapeza said.
The former Warriors coach blamed the defeat on inactivity. He said the team’s lack of competitive matches was haunting them.
“We had chances (to score) and I can’t fault the boys who worked so 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.
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