FC Platinum off to Tunisia

HARARE - FC Platinum flew out of the country yesterday evening on their way to Tunisia for tomorrow’s African Champions League Group B clash against defending champions Esperance. 

The Zimbabwean side flew out from the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport aboard an Emirates flight and are scheduled to arrive in Tunis this afternoon. 

Norman Mapeza and his team are scheduled to then head straight to the match venue for a practice session. 

Pure Platinum Play will take on the Blood and Gold at the —— Stade in Rades at 3pm Zimbabwe time tomorrow. 

Speaking before departure, Mapeza said they are not under any pressure when they take on the defending champions. 

“The boys have prepared well for this game and this competition. This is the first time we are playing in this competition so we are not under any pressure,” Mapeza said. 

“I have told the boys to just go out there and enjoy themselves against Esperance.”

The Zimbabwean champions began their Group B campaign with a goalless draw against South African giants Orlando Pirates last weekend at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo. 

Pure Platinum Play were forced to host their home games in the competition away from Mandava Stadium after the Confederation of African Football (Caf) deemed it unfit for high-level matches. 

After the match in Bulawayo, FC Platinum had travelled to the capital where they had camped as they prepare  to face Esperance. 

The Zvishavane-based side were training at the National Sports Stadium before making the trip to Tunisia yesterday. 

Against the Sea Robbers, FC Platinum were in control for long periods as they enjoyed some decent possession. 

“It was a good game for us. We wanted to win the match but I am happy with a point,” Mapeza said after the draw with Pirates.

 “I can’t complain it was a massive performance from the boys. We need to now focus on our next match in Tunisia.”

The Zimbabwe champions will need another colossal performance tomorrow against the reigning African champions. 

Esperance started their campaign with a 1-1 away draw last Friday away to Guinea champions Horoya AC in Conakry. 

With the group evenly balanced with all the four teams on a single point, Esperance will be desperate to get their first win of this campaign. 

The Blood and Gold are also in a party mood as they held their centenary celebrations on Tuesday and will be looking for three points in the African Champions League as the icing on the cake. 

However, Mapeza and his charges should not be fazed by the prospect of facing the three-time African champions. 

The Zimbabwean side held their own against Pirates last weekend and with a bit of luck could have won that match. 

If Pure Platinum Play apply the same tactical discipline and determination, they can cause an upset against Esperance tomorrow.

Meanwhile, FC Platinum spokesperson Chido Chizondo said the current fuel hike protests did not affect the squad’s preparations for the trip and tomorrow’s match. 

“Everything went according to plan when we made the trip to Harare,” she said. 

“We were escorted from the tollgate until we got to the place we are staying and we have managed to go training without any incidents.”

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