Ngezi Platinum aim for stars

HARARE - Ngezi Platinum Stars coach Tonderai Ndiraya is confident his side will reach the first round of the African Confederation Cup by defeating Pamplemousses in the second leg today.

The two teams clash this afternoon at the National Sports Stadium with the tie evenly balanced after the 1-1 draw in the first leg in Mauritius last weekend.

Kick-off is at 2pm.

The Zimplats-owned side need at least a goalless draw to progress to the second round but Ndiraya said it will not stop them from going out for an all-out win this afternoon.

“We still have a lot of work to do. We have been preparing for a match tomorrow (today) and what we want to do as a team is to make sure that we qualify to the next round of the tournament,” Ndiraya said yesterday.

“Preparations have been going on quite well. We were very disappointed about the way we played in Mauritius, especially defensively. Our defence was quite unstable and with some bit of luck our visitors tomorrow (today) could have punished us.

“We have been preparing with that in mind. Of course, we have an upper hand but at the same time we want to be on the offensive and get a good result. A good result for us will be a win.

“We drew in Mauritius and obviously we are now playing at home and I think we are going to be a little bit more offensive and open up a bit but at the same time we want to be tight at the back.”

Ndiraya’s side were forced to shift base to the National Sports Stadium instead of Baobab Stadium after the Confederation of African Football (Caf) ruled that the second leg could not be hosted in Ngezi since there are no hotels in the area to house the visitors and match officials.

“We were not happy with the decision made by Caf but there is nothing much we can do to something which is beyond our control,” Ndiraya said.

“What we have to do as a team is to focus on what we can control and that is preparing well for the game. As the technical team, we want to make sure the boys are focused for the match and forget about Baobab Stadium.

“We are quite happy that our management facilitated a camp for us in Harare and it has enabled us to get used to the turf.

“We hope the training sessions that we have had there will assist us in getting a result tomorrow (today).”

Ndiraya described Pamplemousses as a one-dimensional side that only plays route one football which at times troubled his defenders in the first leg but they are prepared to counter that threat today. 

“Before we played away we didn’t know our opponents and we only came to know about them when we played them,” he said.

“We discovered they are a determined side with a lot of energy and they play long balls which really troubled our defence in Mauritius.

“We expect them to come and play the same way because it gave them some hope. We don’t expect them to sit back because they want a result. But we have that in mind and we don’t want to be too cautious and we are going to make some tactical changes to the team.”

Defenders Byron Madzokere and vice captain Edgar Tapera, who missed the first leg due to injury, are back in contention for today’s match.

“We had two key central defenders Tapera and Madzokere who were out of the first leg because of injuries and they are fit and fighting for places in the starting line-up.

“We were also unfortunate to lose Walter Mukanga who picked an ankle injury but we have equal cover in that department.”       

Playing in the African Safari for the first time in the club’s history, Ndiraya believes this will be a good opportunity for the side to reach the group stages of the competition.  

“We want to enjoy ourselves in the tournament but in enjoying we said we want to win and getting as far as we can in the tournament. So our immediate task is to qualify to the next round and from there we can try and push so that we go the furthest we can,” he said.

“I think our ultimate focus is to reach the group stage of the tournament. We have said to ourselves if we can reach that feat we would made some history. So we definitely want to reach the group stages but of course without putting pressure on ourselves.”

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