By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE premiership champions FC Platinum put on a commendable performance on their CAF Champions League group stage debut by holding South African giants Orlando Pirates to a goalless draw on Saturday.
Although it was the Zvishavane side which was officially playing at home, Pirates had the solid backing of the vociferous Highlanders fans who packed Barbourfields Stadium to the rafters.
Norman Mapeza’s charges however refused to be bullied into submission by their more fancied opponents and with a bit of luck and patience, could have collected all three points.
Pirates came out with a real intent of finding an early break, creating the match’s first real chance in the 10th minute when Justin Shonga forced FC Platinum goalkeeper Petros Mhari into making a save.
The hosts nearly took the lead three minutes later when Kelvin Madzongwe unleashed a thunderous strike from distance, but Pirates shot-stopper Jackson Mabokgwane made a vital save.
Devon Chafa had a golden opportunity to hand Platinum the lead after he was left unmarked inside the area, but he could only blaze his volley straight into the hands of Mabokgwane.
The visitors appeared to take control of the match in the closing stages of the first half with Innocent Maela and Thembinkosi Lorch seeing their two attempts fly inches wide and straight at Mhari respectively.
Shonga then brought the best out of the Platinum skipper on the stroke of half-time.
The shot-stopper dived to his right to keep out the Zambian’s rasping free-kick.
Both side’s pressed forward in the closing stages of the game but neither side were able to find the winning goal as the game ended 0-0 at the Barbourfields Stadium.
The result means that all four teams in Group B have just one point to show for their efforts after the first round of fixtures.
The Zimbabwean champions travel to Tunisia for a clash against the CAF Champions League holders, Esperance de Tunis next weekend while Pirates next host Horoya from Guinea.
FC Platinum: P Mhari, F Madhananga, D Chafa, K Madzongwe, R Muduviwa, M Dube (L Nhamo 86′), A Sadiki (G Mbweti 77′), W Stima, G Bello, R Kutsanzira, E Moyo
Orlando Pirates: J Mabokgwane, T Lorch, H Jele, K Mahachi (V Pule 74′), J Shonga (A Mulenga 65′), M Nyatama, M Munetsi, X Mlambo (O Mntambo 86′), B Ndengane, S Maela, A Mbekile