BY FORTUNE MBELE in bulawayo
FC Platinum…. (1) 1
AL Ahly………… (0) 1
FC Platinum’s campaign in the group stages of the CAF Champions League crumbled after they surrendered a first half lead to settle for a draw with Egyptian giants Al Ahly in an exciting Group B match at Barbourfields Stadium yesterday.
It was a match that FC Platinum should have won after putting up a sublime first half performance with new signing Last Jesi proving a thorn in the flesh for the visitors in his first game for the hosts, but in the end, it was in vain as they have only picked up a point in four games, losing the first three games.
With a poor goal difference, even winning the last two games against Sudan’s Al Hilal at home and a difficult away tie to Tunisian giants Etoile du Sahel will not be enough for them to progress to the quarter-finals.
Al Ahly are already on seven points with the other two, playing later yesterday both on six points.
Stanley Ngala scored from close range for the Zimbabwean champions in the 19th minute on his debut after a nice build-up involving Raphael Muduviwa, Jesi, Guyve Nsiala and Rainsome Pavari to beat Al Ahly goalkeeper Mohamed Elshenawy.
FC Platinum could have scored as early as the seventh minute, but Pavari’s shot from outside the penalty box narrowly missed the upright with Jesi’s header in the 34th minute safely collected by Elshenawy.
Al Ahly came back stronger in the second half and seven minutes after the breather, Marwan Thwarat restored parity from inside the penalty box, picking a rebound after goalkeeper Petros Mhari had shut out Oluwafemi Ajayi with a brilliant save with the FC Platinum defenders in sixes and sevens.
FC Platinum assistant coach Lizwe Sweswe (pictured), who took charge of the game with his boss Hendrikus Pieter de Jongh watching from the terraces, said it now looks bleak.
“It’s now tough because we wanted the three points so that we could stay in the competition, but now it is tough,” Sweswe said.
“However, all-in-all I am happy about the improvement of the team looking at the previous games that we have played against these three teams.
“At least we have some positives and we take those as we look forward to the coming games.”
His counterpart Rene Weiler was disappointed with the result.
“It was a hard game. We didn’t play well in the first half,” Weiler said.
“Our second half was better, but at the end we are disappointed because our target was to win three points here and the result was a draw and I think it was deserved for both teams.”
Al Ahly could have scored three minutes into the second half, but Mohamad Moursey blasted the ball over the bar with only Mhari to beat after another blunder by FC Platinum defenders.
Ngala could have struck again for FC Platinum eight minutes before full time from the edge of the box, but an alert Elshenawy punched the ball out for a corner.
FC Platinum: P Mhari, R Muduviwa, T Chikore, W Stima, L Mhlanga, K Madzongwe, G Nsiala (N Chinyerere 90+4’), R Pavari, S Ngala (A Eonde 88’), L Jesi (H Magaya 90+1’), P Chikwende.
Al Ahly: M Elshenawy, R Moustafa, , A Alsayed, M Moursy (M Soliman 46’), A Dieng (M Mansour 78’), A Elsouha, M Tharwat, A Maaloul, A Moneim, O Ajayi, H Bartolomeu (A Youssef 65’).