St Michel pin hopes on artificial turf

BULAWAYO - How Mine’s African Confederation Cup opponents St Michel are praying that the artificial playing surface at their home ground will work to their advantage when the two teams meet in the second leg of their first round tie.

Speaking after their 5-1 loss to Chikurupati in the first leg encounter at Barbourfields Stadium last Saturday, St Michel head coach Ralph Jean-Louis said the natural grass at Barbourfields had contributed to his players’ failure to last the distance because they are more used to playing on an artificial surface.

“We lost concentration in the second half of the match because our players were tired. The condition of the pitch could have been one of the reasons why we became weary because the grass was too long,” Jean-Louis said.

The Indian Ocean islanders coach expressed confidence that the advantage would be theirs in the return leg because How Mine will have to adapt to an artificial playing surface.

“It’s going to be a bit difficult having to come back from 5-1 but in football anything can happen and at home we will be playing on artificial turf so we will see how they (How Mine) will adapt,” Jean-Louis added.

How Mine are expected to jet off to the Seychelles tomorrow for the reverse fixture.

Chikurupati will take-off from Joshua Mqabuko International Airport and fly to Johannesburg where they will catch a connecting flight to the Indian Ocean Island.

The winner between the gold miners and St Michel will play the winner between AS Kondozo of Congo Brazzaville and Bayelsa United from Nigeria in the second qualifying round of the competition.

How Mine managed a 2-1 away win over Zanzibar’s Chuoni Football Club in the preliminary round and their head coach Philani “Beefy” Ncube has said they will be out for a win as that will boost his players’ morale when they come up against tougher opponents in the latter stages of the competition.

Kuda Musharu has been the driving force behind the gold miners’ progress and has scored five times so far in their campaign.

Other players that have also found the target consistently for How Mine include veteran midfielder Mernard Mupera and Thembani “Smaller” Masuku who have both scored twice with Mupera’s efforts coming from the penalty spot.

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