Mapeza unfazed - says Mandava Stadium ban won't affect his side

GWERU - FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza is not fazed by Caf’s decision to condemn Mandava Stadium to host the Caf Champions’ League group stage fixtures and has urged the club to remain focused. 

The league champions who are in the same group with Tunisian giants Esperance, Horoya of Guinea and South African powerhouse Orlando Pirates will have to play their Champions League home matches at Barbourfields(BF) Stadium in Bulawayo. 

This comes after the continental mother body highlighted that Mandava Stadium did not meet the required standards to host games of such calibre as the Caf Champions’ League group stages. 

The condemnation of Mandava by Caf seemed to have dampened spirits for the Pure Platinum Play family but yesterday head coach Mapeza urged his charges to keep their eyes on the ball. 

While admitting the complexities of having to play away from home, Mapeza has taken the decision to change the venue in his strides and has urged the FC Platinum family to do the same and focus on the job at hand.

“It is always difficult to play away whether it’s our local league or in the continental matches but after Caf’s decision we have to move on and quickly put everything behind us and focus on our game against Pirates,” the former Warriors star told the Daily News yesterday. 

The reigning coach of the year made a passionate plea to the club’s followers and all football lovers to rally behind the side in the African safari when they host South African giants Orlando Pirates next Saturday. 

“I would like to say to our supporters that Bulawayo is not far from Zvishavane let’s all forget about what happened. I am asking them to come in their numbers to give us maximum support that they have been giving us since we started this journey in the African Safari. 

“We need everyone’s support, not only from the FC Platinum fans but from all football followers to come in their numbers and rally behind us because this is now a national cause and not just about us as a club.” 

The platinum miners have of late enjoyed visits to Bulawayo and last season won twice, drew once and lost just a single encounter in their four visits to the city of Kings. 

However, Mapeza, downplayed his side’s good run in Bulawayo instead saying that he would wish to have more time with his players at the match venue so that they get accustomed to the playing surface and conditions at BF. 

“We cannot talk of our good record playing at Barbourfields locally. This is a different ball game altogether, the highest level of football in Africa; Barbourfields is a much bigger pitch than Mandava and my wish is to go there and have at least five days of training for the boys to get used to the conditions of the pitch,” he said. 

The Zvishavane side has been very active on the transfer market in preparation for the Champions League. 

Recently, they added Soccer Star of the Year finalist Godknows Murwira from Ngezi Platinum Stars on an initial one-year contract. 

The utility player who can play in defence or attacking midfield started training with FC Platinum on Wednesday together with new signing Perfect Chikwende from Bulawayo Chiefs.

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