FC Platinum's big test

HARARE - FC Platinum's intentions of making a mark in the African Champions League this year will come under a stern test when they take on defending champions Esperance of Tunisia this afternoon.

Pure Platinum Play left Harare on Wednesday evening before arriving in Tunis for today’s match at the Stade El Menzah.

Kick-off is 3pm Zimbabwean time.

The Zimbabwean champions began their Group B campaign off to a plausible start with a goalless draw against Orlando Pirates at Barbourfields Stadium last Saturday.

On the other hand, Esperance needed a last minute equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw away to Horoya in Conakry, Guinea.

Tunisian football writer Lotfi Wada told the Daily News that the Blood and Gold will be going all out for a win against FC Platinum this afternoon to cement their Group B.

“Esperance will definitely go for the win. This miraculous away draw thanks to a last minute goal from Anis Badri was like a gift,” Wada told the Daily News.

“They’ll undoubtedly enter the El Menzah pitch to bag the three points and make it four out of six in two games which would put them in a nice position before the double header against Orlando Pirates in Match Day 3 and 4.”

Wada believes Badri and his strike partner Youssef Belaili could cause problems for the Zimbabwean champions, who are making their debut in the group stages this year.

“Certainly Badri, the hero of 2018 edition and Belaili, who is Badri’s best partner in crime, always disturb opponents with their dribbles,” he said.

“And just behind them, Tayeb Meziani is slowly finding his place in the team after joining them recently.

“Haitham Jouini could play a crucial role too. It’ll be interesting to see if both new signings Hamdou El Houni and Junior Lokosa (topscorer in the Nigerian league) will be immediately thrown into the lions’ den.”

Esperance have been ordered by the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to play their next two African Champions League matches behind closed doors including today’s encounter.

However, the Blood and Gold have been used to this situation as most of their league games are also behind closed doors due to security reasons.

Although Esperance will start today’s match as favourites, Wadi believes FC Platinum have come a long way and could spring a surprise.  

“Pleasantly surprised especially by the 1-1 draw against Otoho in Congo Brazzavile which was not an easy thing,” he said.

“For me, they’re performing over their capabilities and reaching such a stage is already a formidable thing.

“The fact that Primeiro Agosto was pathetically eliminated by Otoho a round before eased their passage to the group stages too. I was also very pleased by their formidable performance in last weekend’s game against Pirates.”


 

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