New Desportivo coach begins work

HARARE - FC Platinum's African Champions League opponents, Desportivo de Agosto’s new Serbian coach Zoran Manoljovic Maki has started work with the Angolan side.

The Zimbabwean champions were drawn to play against the Angolan side in the preliminary round of Africa’s premier inter-club competition with the first leg set for the weekend of February 9-11.

Pure Platinum Play will then host the Angolan champions at Mandava Stadium a week later.

If Norman Mapeza’s side gets past Desportivo, they will set up a final qualifying round clash with either Bidvest Wits of South Africa or Mauritius’ Pamplemousses.

The Angolan side named Maki as their new coach at the start of December to replace the hugely successful Bosnian Dragan Jovic, who left the club at the end of the just-ended Girabola season due to health reasons.

Maki will have a tough task to follow in Jovic’s shoes after the Bosnian led Desportivo to two consecutive Angolan titles in 2016 and 2017.

Under Jovic, the club also won the Angolan Cup in 2016 and last year they lost 2-1 in the final to Petro Atletico.  

Maki arrived Luanda on Boxing Day and was formally introduced to the Desportivo players on the very same day.

Previously, the Serbian had coached Angolan sides Sagrada Esperanca and Palanca’s Kabuscorp.

“It will not be an easy season, we are aware of that, but we are prepared to have a great season,” Maki said at his unveiling.  

The Serbian then held his first training session with his new side last Friday as they begin to try and plot FC Platinum’s scalp when the African Champion League preliminary qualifiers commence.

The Angolan side have already signed Nigerian defender Kehind Yisa Anifowoshe from Oman side Alitihat as they prepare for the African safari.

Besides Anifowoshe, the club which is owned by the Angolan defence forces has also re-signed their former goalkeeper Neblu from fellow Girabola side Interclube.

Neblu left Desportivo two seasons ago but has rejoined his teammates as they prepare for the Champions League and to defend the league title they won last season.

Neblu is currently in camp with the Angola national team ahead of the 2018 Africa Nations Championships (Chan) final to be held in Morocco this month.

Desportivo has also promoted two players from the club’s academy — Mario Balburdia (20) and Cirilo da Silva (19) — into the first team for this year.

Mario is a central midfielder while Cirilo plays on either wings.

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