No time to rest for Platinum

“Like I said on Sunday after the Caps game, it is still early in the season to press the panic button because there are many games still to be played,”: Coach Norman Mapeza

FC PLATINUM, Zimbabwe’s representatives in the Caf Confederation Cup, have little time on their hands to prepare for Young Africans of Tanzania in the next round of inter-club competition as they make a return trip to East Africa on March 13.


Platinum beat Sofapaka 4-2 on aggregate after completing another 2-1 home win on Saturday at Mandava Stadium, via a Wisdom Mutasa double.

Young Africans progressed 3-2 on aggregate despite losing 1-2 to Botswana Defence Forces X1 in Gaborone over the weekend.

With the local Castle Lager Premier Soccer League not starting anytime soon as the broadcast programming with SuperSport has not been concluded, Platinum will need to find a match to work on weaknesses that coach Norman Mapeza (pictured)pointed out on Saturday.

Platinum conceded early in the match through Burundian forward Fiston Razak Abdoul when he caught the hosts’ defence napping. But Platinum maintained shape, keeping three defenders at the back and once Thabani Kamusoko started dictating the midfield, they were always bound to recover.

Perhaps Mapeza’ plans were disrupted by the absence of Tatenda Dzumbunu after missing training during the weekend.

In his place came Munya Kunyarimwe, but he was a ball of nerves and Mapeza had to call on the experienced Allen Gahadzikwa to replace him. The coach further fortified his midfield, bringing in Simon Shoko to assist Kamusoko.

“Our objective was to keep possession and the guys did very well. We conceded early, but the guys managed to recover and win the match. I have always demanded maximum concentration in the first minutes and the dying minutes of each half.

“Those are the most crucial moments of the game. It was a wake up call and we responded positively,” Mapeza told the media after the match at Mandava.

Their next opponents Young Africans, or simply Yanga, are veterans of Caf inter-club competitions. They have nine appearances in the Champions League and their achievement was reaching the group phase in 1998, but last season they were bombed out in the first round.

They have played Highlanders before in the Champions League, winning at Barbourfields Stadium.

Yanga have three appearances in the Confederation Cup and their best was a preliminary round showing in 2011.

While Platinum ponder on the local season start, Young Africans have no such preparation problems.

They will get the toughest of them all: Two matches between tomorrow and Sunday. Tomorrow they will face Ruvu Shooting in the Mainland Premier League at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Then on Sunday, Tanzania practically comes to a standstill as Yanga take on bitter rivals Simba at the same venue.

Young Africans is one of the oldest football teams in East Africa. The club was established in the year 1935. The club won Tanzania Premier League 24 times, Tanzania Cup four times and Cecafa cup five times.

Yanga coach, veteran Dutchman Hans Van de Pluijm showered praises on his players for a spirited fight against BDF XI.

The Dutch coach said it was a tough game and his team played well especially in the first half and he felt they ought to have scored more goals. Pluijm was enraged by refereeing decisions especially in the second half, saying his team was undone by several poor decisions.

Mrisho Ngasa, Simon Msuva, Amisi Tambwe and Danny Mrwanda are some of the key players in the Yanga side.

And they have their own Coutinho too, Brazilian attacking midfielder Andrey. Coutinho sustained an injury during a league game against Mbeya City last Sunday in which the Jangwani Street club won 3-1 and the coach remains hopeful he will be up and running before Platinum come to town.