By Mbekezeli Ncube
FC Platinum…………… (2)3
Nyasa Big Bullets…….. (1)2
DESPITE playing the better part of the African Champions League preliminary round qualifier with a man short Zimbabwean champions, FC Platinum managed to beat Malawian based side Nyasa Big Bullets to progress to the next round.
FC Platinum took the lead as early as the fifth minute after Davon Chafa converted a penalty sending the goal keeper the wrong way after when Gift Mbweti was fouled in the box.
The game was evenly balanced and but littered with fouls in the first 30 minutes. The skirmishes left FC Platinum’s Albert Eonde in tears after the Cameroonian was given a straight red card for an open footed challenge on the Nyasa big Bullets player
Nyasa Big Bullets capitalised on the numerical advantage and equalised in the 30th minute courtesy of Peter Banda.
Seven minutes later, FC Platinum took the lead once again thanks to Never Tigere who was left unmarked to beat Nyasa Big Bullets goalkeeper.
Tigere’s goal boosted Platinum’s confidence as they controlled the game until the interval.
Patrick Phiri could have equalised for the visitors in the 58th minute but shot straight at Magalane.
A beautifully executed strike from Never Tigere outside the box could have killed the game in the 65th minute. The ball beat the goalkeeper but not the woodwork.
The Kalisto Pasuwa coached side found the equaliser yet again in the 73rd minute when Patrick Phiri’s strike found the back of the net.
In the 80th minute substitute Perfect Chikwende got the Zimbabwean champions back into the lead when he headed home a cross from Raphael Muduviwa.
FC Platinum survived a scare in the last minutes of added time when Chimwepo Msomoya’s fantastic strike hit the wood work.
The platinum miners coach Norman Papeza was elated at the end of the match.
“We worked so hard, we fought for each other and we were playing against a very good team. We were one man down for most of the game but we kept our shape,” said Mapeza.
“Playing against eleven men was very difficult for me as a coach and for the players on the pitch but at the end of the day we worked so hard as a group. I am happy that we are going to the next stage of the competition.”
Mapeza’s compatriot, Pasuwa gave credit to his youthful side even though they lost the game.
“The boys were playing the ball in front of the goalkeeper which is a mistake that got us punished. They (Nyasa Big Bullets) are still young and that is the stage where a small mistake gets you punished.
“We need to do more when we get back home in terms of how to keep the ball away from the opposition. Coming here and scoring goals means we are doing very well. It was only in defence where we made some mistakes,” Pasuwa said.