FC PLATINUM’S Zambian international defender Aaron Katebe finally joined camp in Zvishavane on Monday as the Chibuku Super Cup winners stepped up preparations for the Caf Confederation Cup.
Platinum start their African safari against Sofapaka of Kenya on February 13 when they travel to the East African country for the first leg with the second due at the end of the month at Mandava Stadium.
Katebe was part of the Zambian preliminary squad that was preparing for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals, but failed to make the final 23 after he was dropped together with veteran striker James Chamanga, Nchanga Rangers goalkeeper Toaster Nsabata and Red Arrows defender Bronson Chama.
He was then given a week’s rest before joining Norman Mapeza’s side for training.
FC Platinum media liaison officer Chido Chizondo said yesterday: “Aaron Katebe is back from the Zambia national team. He joined the squad yesterday (Monday).
He is one of our registered players for the Confederation Cup so everything has normalised. He is back and preparing with the rest of the team.”
Platinum registered 25 players, but are now one man down after leftback Qadr Amin jumped ship and opted for a two-year deal at league champions Dynamos.
The Zvishavane side has, however, said they will not lose sleep over Amin and did not replace him when the January 15 deadline lapsed.
FC Platinum are yet to play a friendly match in preparation for the continental cup following the postponement of their match against Zambian giants Power Dynamos which had been scheduled for Saturday at Mandava Stadium.
“No friendlies have been confirmed as yet, but we will know by Thursday (tomorrow),” Chizondo said.
They had been hoping to play in the season opening Mbada Diamonds Cup, but the sponsors are yet to confirm dates of the competition while the annual CG Msipa Charity Shield dates have not been released as well.
FC Platinum got the slot to play in the Confederation Cup after their penalty shoot-out triumph in the Chibuku Super Cup final match against Harare City which was played at Mandava Stadium.
They return to the competition they last featured in two years ago under former coach Rahman Gumbo who is now based in Botswana.
FC Platinum were knocked out in the second round after losing 0-3 to El Merreikh of Sudan having beaten Swaziland’s Green Mambas at home and away.
The Zvishavane side are the Zimbabwean representatives in Africa this season after league champions Dynamos pulled out of the Champions League due to financial constraints.
Sofapaka have not been spared either in the current transfer window as, according to reports from Kenya, they have lost three players including long-serving overlapping defender John “Leftie” Njoroge who had spent six years with the club.
Njoroge has now signed with newly-promoted Kenya Premier League side Nakumatt FC.
Sofapaka assistant coach David Ouma termed Njoroge departure as “a great blow”.
“His departure is a massive blow,” he said. “He was very instrumental and perhaps the most disciplined player I have ever seen. We wish him success as he embarks on building his football career with Nakumatt FC.”
Other players who have ditched the domestic cup champions are Anthony “Muki” Kimani who found a new home in Bandari and Clifton Miheso who is away on trials in Finland.