ZIMBABWE champions FC Platinum have been paired against Angolan giants Deportivo Lero Agosto in the preliminary round of the 2018 Total Caf Champions League campaign.
According to the draw conducted during the meeting of the CAF Interclubs Committee at the CAF Headquarters in Cairo, Egypt on Wednesday, FC Platinum kick off the tournament with a trip to Angola during the weekend of 9-11 February next year before hosting their opponents at Mandava Stadium the following weekend.
Should the Zimbabwean side beat the Angolan champions, they will face the winner between South African side Bidvest Wits and Pampelmousse of Mauritius in the first round.
But it is the Angolan hurdle which the Zimbabwe champions will have to clear first that looks tougher for coach Norman Mapeza and his charges. Deportivo de Agosto has won the Angolan league title 11 times since 1979 and have won back to back titles in the past two years.
The Angolan champions are also perennial campaigners in African football having made eight appearances in the prestigious competition. They also reached the quarter finals of the lucrative tournament in 2009 suggesting they are a giant in African football.
Meanwhile, this will be the second time FC Platinum are playing in Africa after they failed to make it to the group stages in their maiden appearance in 2012 after falling to Al-Merreikh of Sudan.
In 2015, they played in the Caf Confederation Cup tournament, but their performance wasn’t any better.
Mapeza’s men bowed out in the first round despite edging Young Africans of Tanzania 1-0 in the return leg played at Mandava Stadium.
Having suffered a 5-1 loss in Tanzania, a 1-0 win in Harare meant they exited the tournament on a 5-2 aggregate loss.
They will, however, be aiming to improve from that performance this time around and, perhaps, emulate Caps United, who defied the odds in the same competition this year.
United reached the lucrative group stage of the tournament for the first time in their history under the guidance of Lloyd Chitembwe, in the process beating fancied five-time African champions TP Mazembe.
FC Platinum beat Dynamos to the championship this season in a close title race that had to be decided on the very last day of the league programme. It is their first ever league title since their promotion into the topflight league.Advertisement
Crucially too, it’s the first team from outside Harare or Bulawayo to win the ultimate prize of domestic football since 1966 when the now defunct ST Pauls FC, then based in Musami, Murewa lifted the accolade.