FC Platinum to know fate

HARARE - Zimbabwean champions FC Platinum will know their fate in the African Champions League when the draw for the group stages is held today in Cairo, Egypt.

Pure Platinum Play finally negotiated their way past the qualifying rounds at the third attempt when they beat Congolese side AS Otoho on away goals rule at the weekend.

The first leg of the final qualifier had ended in a 1-1 draw in Owando, Congo over a week ago.

With the away goal in their bag, Norman Mapeza’s side was able to hold out for a goalless draw in the second leg at Mandava Stadium last Saturday.

That result meant the Zvishavane-based side had exorcised the ghosts of 2012 and 2018 when they had put in a lot of investments but failed to qualify for the group stages.

After finishing the league in second place behind Dynamos in only their maiden season in the top flight, Pure Platinum Play entered the 2012 competition with a lot of hope.

In the preliminary round, they defeated Green Mamba of Eswatini 8-2 on aggregate after having won the away leg 4-2 before another crushing 4-0 victory at Rufaro Stadium.

At that time, Mandava had not been certified fit to host Champions League football by the Confederation of African Football (Caf).

Their dream of reaching the group stages was then halted in the first round when they came up against Sudanese giants Al-Merreikh.

Pure Platinum Play were held to a 2-2 draw in the first leg at Rufaro before crumbling to a 3-0 defeat in the second leg in Omdurman.

After that disappointment, the club returned to the Champions League this year when they won the 2017 title.

But this time around it did not last long as their journey ended in the preliminary round where they were knockout by Angolan giants Premeiro de Agosto.

Mapeza’s side lost the first leg 3-0 away in Luanda before going down 2-1 in the second leg at Mandava earlier this year.

However, the club got a reprieve when Caf announced that there would be a transitional tournament running from November this year and May 2019.

This is when Zifa and the PSL asked FC Platinum to represent Zimbabwe in the competition since the local league was still running.

In the preliminary round, Pure Platinum Play were up against Malagasy champions CNaPS Sport and emerged with a 2-1 aggregate win before going on to meet AS Otoho.              
Their success over Otoho means that they will now be among the 16 best teams on the continent when the draw for the group stages is held in Cairo today.

According to Caf’s country rankings for the past five years, DRC giants TP Mazembe, defending champions Esperance of Tunisia, 2017 champions Wydad Casablanca and Africa’s most successful club Al Ahly will be seeded in the draw.

In the second pot will be South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns, serial campaigners AS Vita of DRC, Guinea champions Horoya and Tunisia’s Club Africain.

FC platinum have been placed in Pot 3 together with former African champions ASEC Mimosas and Orlando Pirates with CS Constantine of Algeria also in the mix.

Simba Stars of Tanzania, Nigeria’s Lobi Stars, Egypt’s Ismaily and JS Saoura of Algeria make up Pot 4.

After today’s draw, FC Platinum will start preparing for the group matches which have been scheduled to commence on January 11.

CL Draw Pots    

Pot 1: TP Mazembe, Al Ahly, Wydad, Esperance

Pot 2: Sundowns, As Vita, Horoya, Club Africain

Pot 3: ASEC Mimosas, Orlando Pirates, Constantine, FC Platinum

Pot 4: Saoura, Simba, Ismaily, Lobi Stars


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