Big shoes to fill

HARARE - FC Platinum interim coach Lizwe Sweswe is optimistic he will be up for the daunting task od leading his side’s Castle Lager Premiership title defence in the absence of head coach Norman Mapeza, who is recovering after undergoing back surgery.

Sweswe was thrown in the deep end as Mapeza is expected to be out for at least six months before he fully recovers.

The two-time winning coach is currently recovering at his home in Harare, and the spotlight has fallen on Sweswe as he prepares to take charge of the team’s league opener against ZPC Kariba on Sunday at the National Sports Stadium.

Sweswe, who joined FC Platinum from Tsholotsho at the end of 2016 season, will be assisted by Daniel Vheremu and Patrick Mandizha and has overseen the team’s preparations for the past two weeks.

Speaking to the Daily News on his elevation to take charge of the team in Mapeza’s absence, Sweswe said he is ready for the challenge.

“I know how hard it is to stand in the big shoes of my boss (Mapeza) but it is what it is. We have since accepted it and we now need to take the team forward,” he said.

“We have been together for a while now and it’s only a continuation of what we have been with him. I am ready and looking forward to the challenges that come with the game at this top level.”

The Zvishavane-based side disappointed in the Caf Champions League where they were knocked out in the preliminary round by Angolan champions Desportivo Primero Agosto.
FC Platinum were beaten 3-0 in Luanda in the first leg before succumbing to a 1-2 home defeat at Mandava Stadium in the return leg.

It was FC Platinum’s only second appearance in the African Champions League, having previously participated in the 2012 edition in which they were eliminated in the first round stage by Sudanese giants El Merreikh.

On Saturday, FC Platinum are on the road for a date with ZPC Kariba at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.

ZPC Kariba were forced to look for an alternative venue after the First Instance Body (FIB) condemned their  favourite hunting ground, Nyamhunga Stadium, to host Premiership matches after failing to meet Fifa Club Licensing requirements.

“I think we are now ready for take-off. We have been working hard and we are looking forward to the start of the season.

“The boys are looking good, the combinations and fitness levels have improved greatly so I think we are good to go. It’s always good to start on a positive note. Remember we are the champions and we are working towards retaining our title.

“Of course, we are in a difficult league and it’s not going to be an easy task for us. So we just need to keep on working hard. The good thing is that the boys know what we really want and we are all excited,” Sweswe said.

FC Platinum have strengthened their squad by bringing in highly-rated duo of Zambian forward Shadreck Mayembe and Cameroonian Albert Eonde in the squad.

The defending league champions also sealed deals to bring midfielder Rahman Kutsanzira from Highlanders as well as defenders Jameson Mukombwe, who signed from Black Rhinos, and defender Lawrence Mhlanga.

Goalkeeper Collin Phiri, Kelvin Madzongwe, Never Tigere, Nigel Papias are also some of the new players at Mandava.

PSL Fixtures:
Saturday: Bulawayo City v Chapungu (Luveve Stadium), Ngezi Platinum v Herentals (Baobab Stadium), ZPC Kariba v FC Platinum (National Sports Stadium), Nichrut v Mutare City (Mandava Stadium), Yadah v Bulawayo Chiefs (Rufaro Stadium), Chicken Inn v Dynamos (Barbourfields Stadium)
Sunday: Highlanders v Black Rhinos (Barbourfields Stadium), Shabanie Mine v Triangle United (Mandava Stadium), CAPS United v Harare City (National Sports Stadium)


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