Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum need at least a goalless draw or a win by any margin to qualify for the lucrative Caf champions’ league group stage, for the first time in the history of the club, when they host Congolese side Association Sportive Otoho D’yo at Mandava today.
BY TERRY MADYAUTA/MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
The Zvishavane-based side earned a valuable 1-1 draw in the first round first leg encounter in Owando, Congo Brazzaville last week.
William Stima scored a vital away goal in the 48th minute to cancel out AS Otoho D’oyo’s contentious 20th minute opener through Matheus Botamba.
The winner of the two legged encounter will book a place in the group stages of Africa’s premier club competition, whose draw takes place on December 28.
This is the third time that FC Platinum is taking part in the premier continental competition since they were promoted into the top league in 2010.
However, in the two previous attempts that is 2012 and 2017, Pure Platinum Play failed to make it into the group stages.
FC Platinum could advance to the group stages even with a goalless draw on the away goals rule but coach Norman Mapeza emphasised the need for his charges to secure an outright victory.
“Everybody knows where we are standing now as a club; we are just 90 minutes away from achieving our objective that is reaching the group stages of the Champions League,” he said.
We just need to get the maximum support we need from everyone associated with this club,” he told reporters during a press conference.
By the look of things AS Otoho D’yo, debutants in the competition, are no pushovers. They dumped Angolan side CD Primeiro de Agosto in the preliminary round of the competition.
FC Platinum will remember de Agosto as the team that beat them home and away in the preliminary stage of the same event early this year.
Mapeza says their torrid experiences in Congo last week are their biggest motivation going into the CAF Champions League first round return leg against Association Sportive Otoho D’yo today at Mandava stadium.
The Zimbabwe champions were given a hostile reception in Congo last week yet they still managed a share of the spoils and Mapeza reckons they will take heart from the experience to achieve their goal this afternoon.
“What happened when we went to Congo and the result itself is a big motivation to the team. The boys are really motivated and they just want to finish off the job,” Mapeza said ahead of today’s clash.
“We hope to play to the best of our abilities and get a positive result. Otoho is a very good side but with the bad match officiating we saw in Congo, it became very hard for us to really assess how they play. It was us against the walls.
“But the results they posted against Agosto, home and away show that they are a very good side. But we are preparing well for them and we just hope that we get maximum support from the community and everybody who is associated with the club,” he added.
Their last champions league match at Mandava stadium ended in a 1-0 triumph over Malagasy side CNaPS and they will seek such inspiration in this important tie.
Baroka-bound Rodwell Chinyengetere will be expected to be at his penetrative best so is new signing Lameck Nhamo and Gift Mbweti.
The backline that is likely to feature Lawrence Mhlanga, Elvis Moyo, Raphael Muduviwa and Gift Bello is also expected to maintain its stealth in this crucial encounter.
The match will be handled by officials from Djibouti with Souleiman Djama in the centre and assisted by Sahl Mohamed and Rahid Boulareh.
Mohamed Ghedi will be the fourth official while James Mwenda from Malawi is the match commissioner.
Probable Line-up: Petros Mhari, Raphael Mudiviwa, Elvis Moyo, Gift Bello, Lawrence Mhlanga, Farai Madanhanga, Devon Chafa, Ransome Pavari, Lameck Nhamo, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Gift Mbweti