FC PLATINUM were yesterday handed Sofapaka of Kenya in the preliminary round of the 12th Caf African Confederation Cup and the team’s head coach Norman Mapeza immediately declared it a fair draw.
The pairings were made at the Caf headquarters in Cairo, Egypt.
According to the draw, FC Platinum will travel to Obadiah Tarumbwa’s former club first on the weekend of February 13 to 15 before the return leg in Zvishavane two weeks later.
Mapeza yesterday said the draw was fine although he would have preferred to face a team from a neighbouring country.
“I have watched quite a number of Kenyan Premier League games on television and I must say they have a very competitive league,” he said.
“I know of teams such as Gor Mahia, AC Leopards and Sofapaka who I think play very good football. Sofapaka in particular are a good side and I know they have a few very good Congolese guys who play for the team.”
Mapeza said his team’s objective in the competition would be to reach the group stages.
“That is obviously our target,” he said.
“At this stage we have to make realistic targets and I think the group stage would be fine for us. If we reach that stage then we can start working on the next stage. Like I said, we got a fair opponent although I would have chosen a team from a neighbouring country because of the travelling logistics.
“The dates for the games are not very far, so I think we have to start preparations early. The initial plan was to resume training on January 10, but I think we have to make adjustments to that and start early. We don’t have time.”
While the well-resourced side has managed to avoid regional giants Orlando Pirates at this stage, there is a huge possibility the two teams will collide in the next stages.
Just like the preliminary draw, the first and second-round matches are regionally-based to reduce travel costs as prize money only applies to the group phases. FC Platinum are returning to the competition after last participating two years ago.
However, they were knocked out in the second round after losing 0-3 to El Merreikh of Sudan. Then, under Rahman Gumbo, they swept past Swaziland’s Green Mambas beating them home and away.
Sofapaka, who had former Warriors striker Tarumbwa in their books last year for six months before selling him to South African Pretoria University for a reported $130 000, are not new in Caf club competitions.
Tarumbwa is now with relegated Bantu Rovers after his contract with the South African club was terminated.
Sofapaka, founded in 2002, won the Kenyan league title in 2009 to qualify for the Caf Champions League, but they could not go beyond the preliminary stage.
They had qualified for the Confed Cup the previous year, but got disqualified before bouncing back into the competition in 2011 where they only went as far as the play-offs.
The club’s full name is a mouthful: Sote kama Familia kwaPamoja Kuafikia Azimio Football Club (We as a family together to achieve a goal).
The club originates from the men’s fellowship of the MAOS Ministries football team founded in 2002, which took part in inter-church competitions.
In 2004, businessman Elly Kalekwa took over the team and formed Sofapaka, and eventually joined the elite league.
Their nickname is Children of God and are in Confed Cup after winning the Kenya President’s Cup this season. They play their matches at the 5 000-seater Kenyatta Stadium in Nairobi.
Alternatively, they have the Nyayo National Stadium — a 30 000 seater venue. A total of 56 clubs were in the draw for the 2015 Confed cup after eight were exempted from the preliminary round.
The exempted teams were ASEC Mimosas, Djoliba, FUS, AS Vita, Orlando Pirates, Ahli Shendi, Club Africain, Etoile du Sahel.
Caf Champions League winners receive $1,5 million (₤1,2 million) and runners-up $1 million while $660 000 goes to the Confederation Cup winners and $455 000 to the runners-up.
Champions League and Confederation Cup draws on Page 23