By Sports Reporter
FC PLATINUM will be hoping to atone for what has been a disappointing maiden appearance in the CAF Champions League group stages by upstaging South African giants Orlando Pirates in their penultimate Group B clash at the Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday night.
The match kicks off at 2100 hours.
The Zimbabwe champions are out of the race to qualify for the quarterfinals of Africa’s biggest inter-club competition after collecting just a single point in four group matches.
FC Platinum are also yet to score a goal at this stage of the competition with their only point in the campaign so far coming when they drew nil-all with Orlando Pirates at home in the opening round of the group stages in January.
The Buccaneers on the other hand still have a chance of progressing to the next stage of the competition having collected five points from four games, just three points behind log leaders and defending African champions Espérance of Tunisia.
However despite the fact that their chances of progressing to the quarterfinals are over, FC Platinum are still taking Friday’s match seriously ahead of the new PSL season and left the country on Tuesday.
“Our preparations have gone so well and now we are polishing up and the morale is high in the camp, we just hope to perform better than the last games,” Mapeza told reporters ahead of the match.
“We really need to have a positive mind in this game. We worked on speeds and sprints which gives us an idea of the players’ recovery and almost every area that needed to be improved.”
Mapeza added: “A lot has been said but we have to remain focused on our game. We drew in the reverse fixture played back home and I hope we can up our game when we play them at their home ground.”
The former Zimbabwe international said the current CAF Champions League campaign has been a learning phase for the club and they will draw a lot of positives going forward.
“We are a young club and also learning a lot from this experience. Both the technical team and the players are getting important lessons from these games. The hope is that we get one or two goals but we cannot determine the type (of football) we will play,” the former Warriors gaffer said.
Platinum usually play their matches in the afternoon, but they are training at night to prepare for Friday’s encounter.
They had their first training session at the Greek Club in Bedfordview, Johannesburg, and were scheduled to train at Orlando Stadium on Thursday evening, as is mandatory for clubs to train on the match venue the day before the match.
“We will have to adjust considering that we will be playing at night which is unlike what we do back home. We have also been training under flood lights so that we get used to playing under those conditions because this game will be played at night,” Mapeza said.
Meanwhile FC Platinum have been dealt with a major blow after striker Lameck Nhamo was ruled out of the clash after succumbing to a running stomach, Thursday.
The PSL Champions are now left with few options having travelled with a depleted strike force without Cameroonian forward Albert Eonde, Charles Sibanda and Gift Mbweti.