BY TERRY MADYAUTA IN JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
FC PLATINUM coach Norman Mapeza has set his charges a target of reaching the quarter-finals of the 2019-2020 CAF Champions League after struggling to make an impact in their maiden appearance in the group stages of this season’s edition of Africa’s premier club football tournament.
The Zvishavane side has emerged as the whipping boys of Group B of the 2018-19 CAF Champions League group stages, which also featured reigning African champions Espérance, Horoya AC and Orlando Pirates, as they are yet to register a win heading into the final round of matches.
On Friday night the reigning Zimbabwean champions finally rediscovered their goal-scoring formula, but squandered a commanding 2-0 half-time lead to share spoils with Orlando Pirates in a nervy 2-2 draw at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg.
The draw saw the South African giants remain third in the group standings, while FC Platinum also remained bottom on the table.
However, despite their poor run in their maiden group stage appearance, Mapeza told a press conference in South Africa that they had set sights on reaching the quarter-finals of the 2019-2020 CAF Champions League.
“After today’s game, we are left with one game against Esperance, then we start preparing for the local assignments, but working hard is going to be our secret weapon,” said Mapeza.
“We still have to work hard and if we can be able to reach the group stages again, it will be good. We have learnt a lot from the tournament, so now are well equipped for the next edition, which we have already qualified for. So in the next edition we shall be targeting the quarter-finals, but reaching this level is massive for the team considering that we are one of the youngest clubs back home.”
Mapeza insisted that his charges had put on a commendable effort despite the indifferent results.
“We have been doing very well in all our games, it is just unfortunate that we have been losing, but we shall work on that in the next edition and also make sure that we improve on our conversion rate.
“We need to work on a number of things, from defense and also work to adapt to different conditions because we are not used to playing under floodlights.
“That element might have affected us as well but I am happy that the boys have shown the fighting spirit that despite being out of the competition, we can give any team a run for their money. Credit to the boys and I hope we will improve to be a better team in the future.
“For us it’s work in progress, we are learning and we have to push when we play our game against Esperance Tunis at home.”
FC Platinum will conclude their group stage campaign with a date against Esperance Tunis next weekend at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane.