Mapeza takes positives from Champions League dance

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By Sports Reporter

FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza believes his team has gained valuable experience in their maiden appearance in the ongoing group stages of the CAF Champions League after watching his side throw away a two goal lead against South African soccer powerhouse Orlando Pirates on Friday.

“We still have to work hard and if we can be able to reach the group stages again, it will be good. We have learnt a lot from the tournament so now are well equipped for the next edition which we have already qualified for,” Mapeza told reporters at a Press briefing in Johannesburg.

“So in the next edition we shall be targeting the quarter-finals but reaching this level is massive for the team considering that we are one of the youngest clubs back home. We have been doing very well in all out games, it is just unfortunate that we have been losing.”

Mapeza said environments like playing under floodlights might have affected his players.

“That element might have affected us as well but I am happy that the boys have shown fighting spirit that despite being out of the competition, we can give any team a run for their money. Credit to the boys and I hope we will improve to be a better team in the future.

“For us its work in progress, we are learning and we have to push when we play our game against Esperance Tunis at home,” the former Warriors skipper said.

FC Platinum appeared on course for a famous consolation win on Friday night after taking a commanding 2-0 first half lead through goals by Never Tigere and Rainsome Pavari in the 27th and 37th minutes respectively, with the former failing to convert a penalty.

The hosts however battled back in the last nine minutes of the match through Thembinkosi Lorch and substitute Augustine Mulenga to rescue a point which keeps them in the race for a 2018/2019 CAF Champions League quarterfinal place.

The result meant Pirates remained third in Group B on 6 points with a match left to play and one point behind Horoya of Guinea whom they visit on March 16 in a must-win date in Conakry.

FC Platinum are already out of contention and bottom of Group B on two points ahead of their final group match against defending champions Esperance Tunis who have already qualified next weekend at Mandava stadium in Zvishavane.