It's a turf war - CNaPS' artificial pitch worries Mapeza

HARARE - FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza hopes the artificial turf at the Vontovorona Stadium in Madagascar where his side take on CNaPS Sport in the 2018-19 African Champions League qualifier will not be a major factor.

The Zimbabwe champions, who are hoping to reach the group stages of Africa’s premier inter-club competition, fly out of Harare this morning for Antananarivo and will clash against CNaPS on Wednesday afternoon in the first leg of their preliminary round qualifier.

With the second leg set for Mandava Stadium in Zvishavne on December 5, Mapeza is fully aware that his side needs a good performance at Vontovorona where they have to negotiate a tricky artificial surface.

“It’s always difficult to play on a artificial turf. We are just coming from training now; usually you can see that everyone is pushing for the first 40 minutes or so but after that it was difficult especially if the place is hot and humid,” Mapeza said.

“Those granules bring out so much heat, it’s not easy and it’s very difficult, I don’t want to lie. The videos I have watched from that club; the majority of their players have got bandages on their knees so it shows that it not easy playing on that turf.”

In order to acclimatise to playing on the tricky surface, the Zvishavane-based side arrived in Harare at the weekend and held a training session at the Zifa Village in Mt Hampden yesterday.,

“One thing I have picked up is that the ball moves a bit quicker on artificial turf so the most important thing is to manage were we are going to pass the ball around,” Mapeza revealed.

“As for the heat, you cannot change it. I remember when we went to Cape Verde with the national team; it was so hot and the pitch was an artificial turf.

“It was terrible; the guys were not drinking any water but they were just pouring it onto their boots. I just hope we do not find ourselves in a similar scenario when we go to Madagascar.”

Although they are currently headed by a normalisation committee appointed by Fifa, Malagasy football has been on an upward trajectory ever since Ahmad Ahmad was elected Confederation of African Football (Caf) president in March last year.

For the first time in the country’s history, their national team qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nation finals from a strong Group A that also featured Senegal, Sudan and Equatorial Guinea.

Mapeza believes that the positive developments in the Malagasy game make CNaPS no pushovers.

“We have been watching some of their games; they are not a bad side. As you are aware, the Malagasy national team has just qualified to play at the 2019 Afcon so there is massive development of football in the country,” he said.

“I also understand that they have got so many guys involved with the national team. In their last games they played in the Champions League, they have also been going out in the qualifying rounds.

Just like us, they are also in a learning process and we just hope to go there and get a positive result.”

Earlier this year, FC platinum were knocked out of the Champions League in the preliminary round by Angolan side Primeiro de Agosto, who went on to reach the semi-finals.

Mapeza believes his side is still short of the experience needed to be strong contenders in continental football.

“As a coach, I think we still need to be involved in these competitions. I have to be honest with you guys because sometimes it’s sad when people say ‘We don’t have the quality’, but it’s all about experience,” the former Warriors coach said.

“If you look at the squad that we have now, how many guys are playing in the national team? How many guys have been involved with the Under-23s? How many guys have been involved in these international games?

“You can only get better with experience. For me as a coach, I don’t want to put myself under pressure. I don’t want to put the boys under pressure.

“We will go there and try to do our best; if we get a positive result, that’s brilliant and if we don’t get a result, that’s it, that’s football.”


Comments (1)

A sports research co want to build artificial pitches in the rural areas across the country plus basketball and tennis courts that rural youths can use 24/7 , by 2022 . Vana chidhinha mukazokava bhora haribude mugiraundi kunouraya vana ne mbudzi.

Kalin C - 26 November 2018

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