Mapeza leads FC Platinum to dreamland

FC Platinum..………………0

AS Otoho…....…………….0

(Aggregate 1-1; FC Platinum win on away goals)  

MANDAVA STADIUM - Norman Mapeza made history when he led FC Platinum to the group stages of the African Champions league after yesterday’s goalless draw against Congo side AS Otoho.

Previous only Harare-based clubs Dynamos, CAPS United and the now defunct Monomotapa had managed to eat on the same table with Africa’s football aristocrats.

However, FC Platinum’s name will now go into the hat when the draw for the group stages of the competition will be held this coming Friday in Cairo, Egypt.

After the first leg in Owando had ended 1-1, FC Platinum progressed to the group stages where they be among 16 of Africa’s best clubs via the away goals rule.

The Zimbabwean champions went yesterday’s game knowing a goalless draw would see them through and Mapeza’s charges produced a second half defensive show to repel the Congolese attacks.

After the final whistle Mapeza punched the air with clenched fists before kneeling down shedding tears before recollecting himself to embrace his players.

Mapeza, however, surprisingly confronted defender Gift Bello, who had jumped into the pitch and celebrate with his teammates.

Bello, who was not in the match day squad, was visibly drunk and maybe that did not go down well with the former Warriors coach.

And in his post-match interview, Mapeza sounded very spiritual: “It’s a massive achievement, massive achievement for me as coach and the whole FC Platinum family.

“It’s the end of the season and I’m really short of words; we have worked so hard, nobody gave us a chance but with God everything is possible in this world.

“I told the boys we needed maximum concentration but they kept pumping long balls but we defended very well today with a lot of discipline.

“The same way we did in Congo, we were disciplined at the back, I thought the legs were gone but we told the boys to hold on.

“We encouraged them; I think the boys did absolutely fantastic today, it’s been a long season a long 12 months but thank God we made it to the next stage.”

The Zimbabwean champions almost took the lead 15 minutes into the game but Lawrence Mhlanga’s thumping header off an Elvis Moyo corner went over bar.

Rodwell Chinyengetere opened up the Otoho defence with a neat pass releasing Gift Mbweti, who outpaced two defenders, but his tame effort went across the face of goal.

The Congolese champions soaked all the pressure in the opening parts of the half and began to knock the ball around with purpose with Moussa Cisse causing havoc for the home side.

On the stroke of halftime, the visitors nearly opened the scoring but Alou Bagayoko’s long range shot missed the target

Knowing a goalless draw would be good enough, Pure Platinum Play retreated into a defensive shell in the second period.

Otoho were now enjoying all the possession but they could not find a way through the home side’s defence.


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