We're underdogs: Ndiraya

HARARE - Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Tonderai Ndiraya insists his side will be “underdogs” after they were drawn to face Pamplemousses Sporting Club of Mauritius in the preliminary round of the African Confederation Cup.

Ngezi, who won the right to represent the country in this tournament after winning the Chibuku Super Cup in their first year in the Premiership, will be away for the first the leg on the weekend of February 10-12 before returning to Baobab Stadium for the second leg a week later.

In the event that the platinum miners negotiate their way past Pamplemousses SC, they will meet Angolan side CD Libolo in the first qualifying round.

But it is the preliminary round that Ndiraya feels they should exhaust their energy at the moment.

Pamplemousses, formed 15 years, are no strangers to Zimbabwean football after they were knocked out of the 2007 African Champions League by Highlanders through a penalty shootout after the tie had ended 1-1 on aggregate.

“African football is very difficult especially in these competitions,” Ndiraya told the Daily News yesterday.

“For a team to play in Africa it means they have done something and that alone it brings a lot of competition to the tournament. And as Ngezi we are expecting a lot of competition from the team that we have been drawn against.

“If you remember they once lost to Highlanders after a penalty shootout in the Champions League so it shows they are not pushovers. In fact we are getting into the tournament as the underdogs, they are more experienced than us.

“They have played in Africa before whereas we are coming in for the first time.”

Pamplemousses, who are based in Belle Vue Maurel, have also participated in the Confederation Cup but failed to make it to the group stages.

Ndiraya is however, not throwing in the towel as yet and is confident they would cause an upset.  

“But football being football, we hope to prepare well and do well when we play the games. We have already started planning so that we can actually know more about our opponents,” he said.

“We have little information about them and we have already started our ground work so that we can gather enough information. We are under no pressure at all we are actually in this competition to learn and enjoy ourselves but at the same time we also want to win games.

“We have nothing to lose and in any case they should be more worried with us than us being worried with them.”

Ngezi and CAPS United have been drawn to start in the preliminary stages of African continental competitions following disappointing performances by local teams in previous years.

Makepekepe were drawn to face Lesotho side Lioli FC in the preliminary round of the Champions League.

The last local side to reach the group stages of the Champions League is the defunct Monomotapa in 2010.

That poor run has seen Zimbabwe losing their second slot in both the Champions League and the Confederation Cup.

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