By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWEAN champions FC Platinum will have to wait longer before registering their first win in the CAF Champions League group stages after ending their participation in this season’s competition with a disappointing 2-0 to Etoile du Sahel in Rades, Tunisia Saturday night.
The defeat in Tunisia capped off yet another dismal campaign by the three-time Zimbabwean champions who suffered six defeats in six matches in this year’s group stages of Africa’s premier club competition.
Resultantly FC Platinum, who only managed to collect a single point following the one-all draw against Egyptian side Al Ahly at Babourfields Stadium last month, finished at the bottom of Group B.
It is the second season in a row, that the ambitious Zvishavane-based side has completed the group stages of the CAF Champions League without a win.
FC Platinum’s 2-0 defeat at the Olympic Stadium in Rades on Saturday night meant Etoile du Sahel secured safe passage into the final eight of the CAF Champions League as the winners of Group B, joining Al Ahly in next week’s quarterfinal draw.
Al Ahly drew 1-1 with Sudanese side Al Hilal in Omdurman in another Group B match which was played concurrently with the match between FC Platinum and Etoile du Sahel.
Etoile dominated from early on but a lack of patience and precision in attack meant they created few clear chances with which to test Platinum goalkeeper Francis Tizayi in the first half.
The Zimbabweans, now under the guidance of Dutch coach Pieter De Jong, who took over from Lizwe Sweswe, had spent most of the time camped in their own half, looking to frustrate the hosts and use their pace and athleticism to catch Etoile out on the counter attack.
However, ESS gradually settled into a determined rhythm and they were rewarded early in the second half when Karim Aribi turned home an assist from Iheb Msakni to break the deadlock.
The Algerian forward in the process became the first player to score 10 goals in a Champions League campaign since Emmanuel Clottey in 2012.
The second goal for the Tunisian hosts arrived in the 72nd minute, with midfielder Malek Baayou firing home a superb long-range strike to effectively end the game as a contest.
ESS looked set to finish second in the group, but news of a late equaliser for Hilal in Omdurman ensured their tally of 12 points topped the 11 of Al Ahly.