Mapeza proud of his charges

CONAKRY - FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza has praised his players after their African Champions League campaign all but ended following a defeat to Guinea champions Horoya AC here on Tuesday night.

Pure Platinum Play needed nothing short of victory to keep their chances of progressing to the quarter-finals from Group B but they went down 2-0 at the Stade 28 Septembre.

The Zimbabwean champions started the game on a good note and troubled the home side’s defence especially in the first half but could not find the back of the net.

Mapeza’s men were punished for the missed opportunities as Horoya scored two second half goals through Mandela Ocansey and Hudu Yakubu.

The defeat means Pure Platinum Play remain rooted at the bottom of the group with only a single point from four games.

Even if they win their remaining two games against Orlando Pirates (away) and Esperance (home), the Zimbabwean champions will not be able to make it into the knockout stages of Africa’s premier inter-club competition.

An impotent strike force has ultimately proved to be FC Platinum’s Achilles heel as they have failed to find the back of the net in their opening four Group B matches.

Their failure to defend in dead ball situations was cruelly exposed by Horoya.

“Yeah, the guys did very well. It’s unfortunate we conceded those two goals.

“I think we could have avoided them, they were set pieces and usually it’s about communication and concentration and on those occasions I don’t know what really transpired,” Mapeza told the Daily News.

“I don’t really know what transpired but it’s very painful conceding from a set piece because usually you have ample time to get organised. ... I think those two goals could have been avoided.

“But overall, I think it’s one of our best games in the group stages; I think we played very well today,

“I think we had some few chances and we could have got something from set pieces as well.”

Mapeza is confident though that playing against some of Africa’s best clubs will do a lot of good for his side.

This was the first time the Zimbabweans had reached the group stages and in August they will have another chance to participate in this competition after winning the 2018 domestic title.

“Like l said, it’s a learning curve and l think we are moving in the right direction.

“We just need to keep working hard and try by all means to get some results in the last two matches.

“We have to keep believing, we have to win; you know that’s what we want,” the former Warriors coach said.

“It would be good to go out of the tournament maybe with two wins under our belt.

“We really want to win matches; you know like l always say, we usually go out there to win matches but if results don’t go our way sometimes you need to sit down and reflect.”

On his side’s scoring woes, Mapeza said: “We have a challenge of not scoring goals but we just have to keep working hard.

“If it means looking for some top strikers, we have to do that before the season kicks off at home.

“I don’t want to say this department let me down, these guys worked so hard.

“And like l said, there is no way we are going out there and not try to win games because they are trying and they are putting everything into the game.

“But you know scoring goals have been our challenge and like l said you cannot talk of scoring goals in open play only. You can talk of scoring goals from set pieces and whatsoever so those are the areas we need to work on.

“We need to work more on maybe using set pieces and then like l always say it’s about creativity at the end of the day.”

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