BY TAWANDA TAFIRENYIKA
DYNAMOS and Chicken Inn coaches Tonderai Ndiraya and Joey Antipas have both cast doubts over Zimbabwe Caf Champions League representatives FC Platinum’s chances of making it to the first round of the qualifiers due to poor preparations.
FC Platinum were paired against newly-crowned Angolan champions Sagrada Esperança in the preliminary round.
The Zvishavane side, who only started training on Monday after months of inactivity, will travel to Luanda for the clash against the hosts between September 10 and 12. All along the platinum miners were barred by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) from doing group training. Football activities are currently banned in Zimbabwe as a measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.
FC Platinum needed a special waiver from the SRC for them to start training and participate in the continental matches.
Ndiraya posits that FC Platinum are in a difficult position going into this match as players are not fit and ready to compete against continental opponents as they have been inactive for a long time.
“FC Platinum are in a difficult position going into this match. Their opponents, Sagrada Esperança, last played a competitive match against Pedro De Luanda last month on July 31,” Ndiraya said.
“This was also their last match of the Angolan league and they were crowned champions. It was also their 28th and last game of the season. Our own champions last engaged in a competitive match in the Chibuku Super Cup after a long football lay off. Football has no shortcuts and one needs to have extraordinary fitness levels to compete at the level. What I can say is that Mapeza needs our support under these circumstances. He has the quality, but considering the circumstances, he could have chosen to skip this tournament, but then again what is our football going to be? FC Platinum continue to be the fountain of hope for our football. They have become one of the top-ranked teams on the continent judging by the latest Caf club rankings and what more can one ask for, especially from a team which hasn’t consistently played football for close to 24 months. It will be folly of us to ask for too much from their participation and all we can do is to give them all the support,” he said.
Antipas also reckons that FC Platinum will need a miracle to progress to the next stage.
“Given the circumstances our football clubs are facing with the pandemic, it will be a miracle for FC Platinum to progress to the first round. Although anything can happen in a game of football, FC Platinum have been inactive for six weeks, no training or
game time, under their belts. So it is difficult for them to prepare and get in shape for the match. They need at least six weeks to prepare for this kind of competition and engage in some friendlies, but it is impossible because no local teams are training. They will have three weeks to prepare for the first leg against formidable opponents. It is really tough on them. All I can do is to support their efforts and that a miracle will unfold,” he said.
Should FC Platinum overcome their opponents in this preliminary round clash, they will face the winner of the match between Royal Leopards of and Zanaco of Zambia.
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