By Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE champions FC Platinum will seek to make history by qualifying for the group stages of the CAF Champions League for the first time when they host Congolese side AS Otoho D’yo in a first round, second leg encounter at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane on Saturday.
Despite their dominating the domestic league over the last two seasons, FC Platinum are yet to reach the lucrative group stages of the continent’s biggest inter club competition.
Their last attempt ended in misery when they were hammered 5-1 on aggregate by Angolan side Club Desportivo D’Agosto in the preliminary round early this year.
Norman Mapeza’s men however have a golden opportunity to ink their names into the history books of Zimbabwean and African football if they manage to defeat their opponents.
FC Platinum head into the encounter against the Congolese on the front foot after scoring a precious away goal to grind out a 1-1 draw in Owando, Congo last on Sunday.
Versatile defender William Stima scored a vital away goal in the 48th minute to cancel out AS Otoho D’oyo’s contentious 20th minute opener through Matheus Botamba.
The winner of the two legged encounter will book a place in the group stages of Africa’s premier club competition, whose draw takes place on December 28.
The platinum miners could also advance to the group stages even with a goalless draw on the away goals rule but FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza emphasised the need for his charges to secure an outright victory.
“It is not yet over, the first half was played in Congo and the second half is here. We still need a result here if the game finishes at 0-0 we will qualify but that is not guaranteed. They can get a goal in the dying minutes,” Mapeza said ahead of the match.
“Everybody knows where we are standing now as a club. We are just 90 minutes away from achieving our objectives; that is reaching the group stages of the Champions League. We just need to get the maximum support we need from everyone associated with this club.
AS Otoho D’yo were expected into the country on Thursday following the arrival of their advance team on Monday.
FC Platinum received a boost ahead of the match with midfielder Rahman Kutsanzira set to make a return to the side from an injury which ruled him out for the first leg.
Warriors defender Kelvin Moyo is however expected to miss the match after failing to recover in time but will be available for the group stages if FC Platinum advances.
Reigning Soccer Star of the Year and the league’s top scorer Rodwell Chinyengetere is expected to lead FC Platinum’s formidable attack which also features new signing Lameck Nhamo and Gift Mbweti.
The match will be handled by officials from Djibouti with Souleiman Djama in the centre and assisted by Sahl Mohamed and Rahid Boulareh.
Mohamed Ghedi will be the fourth official while James Mwenda from Malawi is the match commissioner.