6 December 2018
FC Platinum will face Congo Brazzaville’s AS Otoho in the final qualifying round of the CAF Champions League.
Platinum progressed to the next stage after beating Madagascar’s CNaPS Sport 1-0 courtesy of a Rodwell Chinyengetere goal at Mandava yesterday.
Norman Mapeza’s men progressed on a 2-1 aggregate having managed a 1-1 draw away in the first leg.
Otoho eliminated Angola’s Primeiro de Agosto after a 2-0 win at home yesterday to proceed on away goals having lost the first leg 4-2.
Platinum avoided Agosto who eliminated them earlier this year in the same competition.
Mapeza said it was not an easy task as they went into the match with a cautious approach.
“It wasn’t easy in the first half but we really pushed, I think we should’ve led the game in the first half but we were a bit cautious.
“When we got that goal, it opened up the game (and) the Madagascar side was now pumping long balls forward and I think we were ready at the back,” he said.
Mapeza said the difference yesterday was pitch as they struggled on an artificial turf in the first leg.
“The difference between today’s (yesterday) game and the previous was the pitch. That pitch was not good for us, we kept the ball.
“First half we were all over them, and the second we were a bit cautious, we were just waiting for the ball. And when we got the ball they were looking to come at us but we defended very well and credit to the boys,” he said.
The miners were in action since the beginning of the year since they also participated in the CAF Champions League earlier this year and Mapeza is worried about fatigue.
“My worry now is for the boys, they have been playing since January, it’s now 12 months and our recovery programme helped the boys very well,” said Mapeza.
The former Warriors coach has called for patience saying his boys are still ‘rookies’ in the competition.
“It’s unfortunate, it’s my second time in the league and I’m still young in this competition so people always say they failed. I don’t think it’s fair to us.
“We are still a young club unlike Dynamos who started to play in the Champions League in 1981 but only to be in the final in 1998. We are just seven years old and people have started talking.
“We are still learning, even if we go to the next round and we don’t do well. The boys are learning, it’s different level of football, this is difficult. These guys are learning, how many guys are playing for the national team? One. So where will they get experience. I also need to get that experience.
“The club also needs experience, so we are learning and along the way we will get what we are looking for. We might reach the final of this tournament maybe in 50 years’ time when I am no longer with this club or maybe in 12 years’ time. But this club and myself we need that experience,” he said.
FC Platinum seek to become the fourth Zimbabwean team to progress to mini-league phase after Dynamos, Monomotapa and Caps United.