BY MUNYARADZI MADZOKERE
ZIMBABWEan champions FC Platinum will be hoping to come out unscathed when they enter the lion’s den for a Caf champions League first round tie against Simba SC at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Tanzania on Wednesday.
FC Platinum, who left the country for East African country on Friday, need just a draw to qualify to the group stages of the competition for a third consecutive season.
Norman Mapeza’s (pictured) men carry a slender but crucial 1-0 lead from the first leg which was played in Harare a week and a half ago.
However, Simba, whose name translates to “Lion” in Swahili, are confident of overturning the deficit and progress to the lucrative stage of the continental premier club competition.
“First of all, I know everyone knows we are trailing 1-0 so far, but obviously we still have a great chance of qualifying for the group stage by making sure we win our rematch which we will play at home here in Dar es Salaam,” goalkeeper Aishi Manula was quoted by Tanzanian website Sokalabongo.
“I believe the good results in our last two games have boosted our morale to win the game, and through the support of our fans and football stakeholders in the country we will qualify and go to the group stage,” he said.
Manula and club captain John Bocco missed the match in Harare after they failed to pass a late fitness test.
The two are in line to help their side beat FC Platinum at home and progress to the next stage.
Simba coach Sven Vandenbroeck, who was upset by his side’s defeat in the first leg, has declared war on FC Platinum in a quest to reach the group stages.
“There is a chance for us to make it to the group stage of the Caf Champions League,” Vandenbroeck said in an interview with another Tanzanian website Championi.
“We did not lose the first leg because our opponents were better, we were punished because of the mistakes we made. But if we do proper training and ensure we rectify the mistakes we made, I am sure we will get the result we need to advance.
“Our focus is on the second leg that we will play at home. We will be much stronger with energy to fight for the win. Currently, we are also trying to improve the team tactically because we are going for nothing less than a big win at home.
“I am hopeful we will get it and give the fans something to celebrate about,” the Belgian tactician said.
Simba are also famed for employing dirty tricks in continental competitions. The 16 winners of the first round advance to the group stage, while the 16 losers enter the Confederation Cup play-off round.
FC Platinum Squad
Rahman Kutsanzira, Rainsome Pavari, Petros Mhari, Nomore Chinyerere, Perfect Chikwende, Donald Dzvinyai, Kelvin Madzongwe, Raphael Muduviwa, Tawana Chikore, Future Sibanda, Denzel Khumalo, William Stima, Gift Bello, Francis Tizayi, Elie Ilunga, Gift Mbweti, Elias Maguri, Silas Songani, Evidence Tendayi, Kelvin Mangiza, Lawrence Mhlanga, Ralph Kawondera, Panashe Mutimbanyoka.