Platinum begin African safari

HARARE - For only the second time in their history, FC Platinum will this weekend take part in the Africa Champions League hoping to make a better impact than their last previous attempt.

Norman Mapeza’s side is set to take on Angolan side Premeiro Desportivo Agosto in the first leg of the preliminary round clash at the Stadia 11 November in Luanda.

The second leg is scheduled for Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane on February 20.

FC Platinum first took part in Africa’s premier inter-club competition in 2012 under their former coach Rahman Gumbo.

That year, the Zvishavane-based side began their journey in the preliminary round when they took on Swaziland side Green Mamba.

They won the first leg 2-4 in Swaziland with Donald Ngoma scoring a brace while Ali Sadiki and Allen Gahadzikwa were also on target for Gumbo’s side.

In the second leg, Pure Platinum Play put the Swazis to the sword running out 4-0 winners to take the tie 8-2 on aggregate.

The victory secured FC Platinum a first round date with Sudanese giants El Merreikh which proved to be a bridge too hard to cross.

El Merreikh refused to have the tie played in Zvishavane as they did not approve of the accommodation facilities in the mining town.

Caf accepted the Sudanese’s complaint and FC Platinum were forced to host the first leg away from their beloved home ground to Rufaro Stadium.

Michelle Katsvairo and Ngodzo scored for Pure Platinum Play but the Zimbabwean side could not kill off the contest.

The home side allowed El Merreikh to force a 2-2 draw. After scoring two away goals, the Sudanese side were always going to be favourites going into the second leg which they duly won 3-0 to take the tie 5-2 on aggregate.

That was the last time FC Platinum took part in the Africa Champions League and have had to wait at least another five years to be back among the continent’s elite.

In 2015, they took part in the African Confederation Cup but the pedigree and quality of opposition cannot be compared to that of the Champions League.

Mapeza’s side won the right to get back into Africa’s elite competition following their title win last season.

The draw has, however, not been kind to Pure Platinum Play because Desportivo are no easy pushovers.

Desportivo are 11-time Angolan champions and have won the title in the last two years.

The club recently appointed Serbian coach Zoran Manoljovic Maki to take over from Bosnian Dragan Jovic.

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 resigned their former goalkeeper Neblu from fellow Girabola side Interclube.

Desportivo, however, seem to be domestic bullies as they have failed to translate their domestic dominance in the Girabola to Caf competitions.

Last season, they were knocked out of the Champions League by Ugandan side Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) in the preliminary round on away goals rule.

KCCA won the first leg 1-0 in Kampala before Desportivo took the second leg 2-1 in Luanda.

Mapeza has added some reinforcements to his championship-winning side as they bid to reach the group stages of the competition.

Headlining the new arrivals at Mandava is the foreign duo of Zambian forward Shadreck Mayembe and Cameroonian Albert Eonde.

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