By Mbekezeli Ncube
FC PLATINUM started life without their long-time coach Norman Mapeza on a positive note, beating Mozambican champions UD Songon 1-0 victory in a CAF Champions League first leg match played at Barbourfields stadium Saturday.
A solitary goal by Never Tigere in the first half was enough for the two time Zimbabwean champions to claim a first leg home victory.
The match was a well-balanced affair in the first 15 minutes as clear cut chances were created by both sides.
FC Platinum’s first chance of the game came in the 16th minute when Never Tigere’s freekick was tipped out for a goal kick by the visitors’ goal minder for a corner.
Six minutes later, Tigere got the hosts into the driving seat after a beautifully taken free kick flew into the near post leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.
It was Tigere’s second goal in as many games in the CAF Champions League this season.
The teams went into the interval with FC Platinum one goal up with the visitors recording not even a single shot on target.
UD Songo started the second half on a high with the best chance falling to Pachoio Lau Kuig when the ball fell on his feet but he could not convert yet he was just a few inches away from the goal line.
Petros Mhari, in goals for the hosts, was quick to react to save the day.
It was all UD Songo in the second half, keeping the Zimbabwean champions under pressure but they could not find the away goal advantage.
Just like UD Songo before the interval, FC Platinum could not bother the visitor’s goalkeeper but they hanged on for a victory.
The Zvishavane side will now go to Mozambique for the second leg with a one goal advantage in two weeks’ time.
Responding to their triumph, FC Platinum interim coach Lizwe Sweswe said, “What was important is to see how we play in our new era. I think the fact that we scored a goal and won we have an advantage going to the second leg.
“A goal to nil is a perfect win because we did not expect to win more than that playing against a team as good as UD Songo. They are the champions of Mozambique and just like us, they qualified for the second stage of the preliminary rounds.
“Our opponents were good but they lacked the final touch in the final third and to us that was an advantage. Our target is to qualify to the mini league. It’s not all about scoring goal.”
UD Songo coach Nacir Aramndo said his team did not play well in the first half but he was impressed by his side’s performance after the break.
“We did not start the game well but in the second half, we tried to score and improve our play. Our team played well but did not do that much.
“In the first half we wanted to read and adopt to how our opponents played. That is why we improved in the second half. Platinum is a good team, they play well and we learnt our lesson. At home we are going to do all our best,” he said.
The return fixture will be played in Mozambique on 28 September and the winner will qualify to the group stages of the competition.