By Mbekezeli Ncube
FC Platinum……. (1) 1
Al Ahly……………..(0) 1
FC Platinum virtually surrendered any hopes of proceeding to the knockout stages of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League when they played out to a 1-1 draw with Egyptian champions Al Ahly in a match played at Barbourfields stadium on Saturday.
A draw for FC Platinum was not enough for them to keep their hopes alive and progress to the next stages of the competition.
The hosts were playing defensive football from the early stages of the match.
While their rearguard was a bit sloppy in the opening stages of the encounter, the Zimbabwe champions managed to settle and gain some composure as the game went on.
Al Ahly played for the better part of the game in the Zimbabwean champions’territory but failed to break the hosts’ solid defence.
FC Platinum, who had few chances of their own via counter attacks, were rewarded in the 20th minute when Guyve Nsiala chested the ball in the 18 yard box for Stanley Ngala to side foot the goalkeeper and register his first goal for the club.
The Zimbabweans could have gone two nil up in the 38th minute but a brilliant save from The Red Devils goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy Ahmed denied Ngala his brace.
The Zvishavane based outfit went to the break leading by a goal to nil.
Al Ahly equalised soon after the interval courtesy of Marwan Mohsen Fahmy Tharwat.
Pure Platinum Play defenders were to blame for the goal after goalkeeper Petros Mhari did all he could to deny the visitors a goal but conceded when Tharwat latched onto the rebound.
After the Al Ahly goal, FC Platinum gained a bit of confidence, enjoying some possession in the visitors’ territory.
One-all is how it ended and a point for FC Platinum was not enough for the Zimbabwean champions to renew any hopes of booking a ticket in the knockout stage of the competition for the first time in their history.
FC Platinum assistant coach, Lizwe Sweswe said he was satisfied with how his charges played considering that they were playing against one of the greatest teams in Africa.
Newly appointed FC Platinum coach Hendriek Pieter De Jonng will have a mountain to climb next season in order for the three time in a row Zimbabwean Champions to progress from the group stages of Africa’s most prestigious club competition.
“I think it was a tough match but well done to the boys for putting up that performance against one of the best teams in Africa.
“All in all I think we nearly got the three points but we were supposed to manage the game especially in the early stages of the match otherwise I would like to say well done to Al Ahly,” said Sweswe in a post match conference.
Al Ahly coach said his team was at sixes and sevens in the first half but he was happy for salvaging a point away from home.
“It was a hard game, we did not play well in the first half but the second half was better and in the end I believe both teams deserved to win,” he said.