FC Platinum faces defining moment

HARARE - It's make or break for FC Platinum when they take on Angolan side Premeiro Desportivo Agosto in the second leg of their African Champions League preliminary round clash this afternoon.

The Zimbabwean champions trail 3-0 from the first leg in Luanda last weekend when they collapsed at the Estadio 11 de Novembro.

Norman Mapeza’s side will attempt to do the impossible when they host the Angolans this afternoon at Mandava Stadium.

Only a victory with a four-goal margin will be sufficient for Pure Platinum Play to book a place in the final qualifying round where they might meet Bidvest Wits of South Africa or Mauritius’ Pamplemousses.

However, scoring four unanswered goals against the Angolan champions will not be an easy task considering how they performed in that first leg.

This is the second time the Zvishavane-based side is taking part in the African Champions League and have never reached the group stages of the competition.

In 2012, Pure Platinum Play bowed out in the first round after losing to Sudanese giants El Merreikh and failure to beat Agosto today by this huge margin would mean they are going out of the competition early again.

Mapeza accepts the pressure will be on his team especially in front of their home fans who would expect them to go all out attack s they try to reduce the deficit.

“I believe it’s down to our desire, our mental strength and when you are men you want to stand up and be counted in situations like these,” Mapeza told the Daily News.

“You have to stand up to be strong enough, to fight, to show that you have the courage and that you are not inhibited because you are under pressure. We have to stand up and be counted all together.

“I do not especially look at one or the other one. As a group, as a unit FC Platinum needs to be together. We are in a difficult situation together and we have to respond together. It’s not an easy task but we need to fight to the end.”

Mapeza said they have not stopped believing and will go out on an all attack but at the same time need to be careful and avoid conceding on the counter attack.

“We need to score goals which calls for us to attack. But at the same time we also need to be cautious at the back. We can’t afford to concede as it will make life difficult for us,” he said.

Mapeza has since revealed he would not make wholesome changes to the team that did duty in Luanda.

The former Warriors coach insists some of his new recruits like Cameroonian Albert Eonde and Zambian Shadreck Mayembe are yet to reach full fitness and could be forced to watch from the sidelines again having already missed the first leg.

FC Platinum opponents underlined the importance of this match after sneaking into the country a week ago to acclimatise and intensifying their preparations.

Since arriving in Zimbabwe, Agosto have been staying in the capital Harare and training at the National Sports Stadium B Arena.

The Angolans left Harare on Monday by road to make the 386km trip to Zvishavane and had a brief stop in Kadoma before continuing with their journey to Zvishavane.

Agosto held a training session at Mandava yesterday afternoon to get a feel of the match venue ahead of today’s match.

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