Fungai Muderere/ Raymond Jaravaza
ZIMBABWE’S representatives in the Caf Confederation Cup and Champions League contests Triangle and FC Platinum will this weekend respectively plunge into battle against Burundi’s Rukinzo and Malawi’s Nyasa Big Bullets.
The game between Triangle and Rukinzo will be played at Barbourfields Stadium on Saturday. This is the first time that Taurai Mangwiro’s Sugar Boys are featuring in the African interclub competitions after winning the Chibuku Super Cup last season.
Triangle United coach Taurai Mangwiro concedes that his team will be literally walking into the dark when they take on an unknown opponent in Burundi’s Rukinzo FC but says the local side remains confident of emerging victorious on Sunday at Barbourfields Stadium.
The Confederations of African Football (Caf) slotted the game for Barbourfields Stadium after the Triangle United home ground, Gibbo Stadium, failed to meet requirements to host a continental competitions game.
“We hardly know anything about Rukinzo FC except that they play in the Burundi top-flight league and won a cup competition in their home country to qualify for the Caf Confederations Cup.
“They are not necessarily a powerhouse in Burundi but in football it’s always important to respect your opponents but at the same time we are going for nothing short of a win on Sunday,” Mangwiro told B-Metro Sport before the team’s last training session at Gibbo Stadium during the week.
The team was expected to touch down in Bulawayo on Thursday and go through a number of training sessions at the match venue while acclimatising to the local weather conditions and the turf at Emagumeni.
Mangwiro said as much as his side was looking forward to a good match at Barbourfields Stadium, all things being equal they would have liked to play Rukinzo FC at Gibbo Stadium.
“We appreciate that there are some things that we can’t change such as Caf rules and regulations, which stipulate that Gibbo Stadium must meet certain requirements to host continental matches but we would have loved to play in front of our small community here in Triangle.
“These are the kind of games that the local community relishes watching as they create lasting memories but we, however, remain confident that football fans will fully support us at Barbourfields Stadium,” he added.
Gate charges have been pegged at $10 for the rest of the ground, $20 for the wings and $50 for the VIP section.
The return fixture is in Burundi on the weekend of 24 to 25 August.
Norman Mapeza will lead his Pure Platinum Play arsenal to Kamuzu Stadium on Sunday where they will face Callisto Pasuwa’s fired up Bullets in the preliminary round match.
The winner between FC Platinum and Nyasa Big Bullets will play either Simba of Tanzania or Mozambique’s UD Songo before advancing to the group stages.