ZIMBABWE’S football champions FC Platinum will need to post a straight win or at least avoid a scoring draw against Angolan side GD Sagrada Esperanca in a CAF Champions League preliminary round, second leg match set for National Sports Stadium on Saturday.
In the reverse leg that was played in Luanda last weekend, a 10-man FC Platinum managed to force a goalless draw to earn praise from their coach Norman Mapeza.
Pure Platinum Play’s youthful defender Kelvin Mangiza was given his marching orders early into the second stanza after a second bookable offence.
The draw away from home was regarded as an impressive result for FC Platinum considering the club has not been active since June as the country went on a Covid-19 induced lockdown resulting in another blanket ban on all sports.
Zimbabwe’s representatives only got an exemption from the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) to start training a month ago but were not permitted to play any friendly matches.
Their Angolan counterparts have been playing regular football despite the Covid-19-induced lockdowns.
The Zvishavane-based Mapeza’s men, who will have to play in the capital as their home ground Mandava Stadium is not certified by CAF. They will need to produce a victory by any margin or avoid a scoring draw if they are to go beyond the preliminary stage of Africa’s biggest club football competition.
FC Platinum will bank on the services of the experienced Rodwell Chinyengetere, goalkeeper and captain Petros Mhari, Silas Songani, Gift Mbweti, ex-Highlanders midfield duo Rahman Kutsanzira and Brian Banda among other talented players
The winners of the tie will book a date against either Royal Leopards of Lesotho or ZESCO United of Zambia in the first round.
Leopards, who are representing Lesotho in the contest for the umpteenth time, go into their second leg tie against Zesco United carrying a slender 1-0 lead.
In their previous CAF Champions League campaign, Pure Platinum Play failed to reach the group stages after being beaten by Tanzanian champions Simba SC 4 – 1 on aggregate.
Simba SC, who provide home to ex FC Platinum player Perfect Chikwende, went on to book a semi-final berth in the competition that has largely been dominated by Egypt’s Al Ahly.
Al Ahly have 22 African titles.