Mapeza targets strong start to FC Platinum title defence

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By Sports Reporter

FC PLATINUM coach Norman Mapeza is targeting a strong start to his side’s title defence in its 2019 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League opening clash against Harare City at Rufaro Stadium this Friday.

Mapeza, who is seeking to guide the Zvishavane-based side to their third successive premiership title, said it was important for his side to get the campaign off to a winning start, although he is expecting a tough encounter against the Sunshine Boys.

“We are the ones who are going to kick off the 2019 season. So it’s a massive game for us as a club and I think it’s very important for all of us as an institution to start this campaign on a positive note,” Mapeza said at a Press conference on Thursday.

“I don’t think we have gathered enough information about how they have been doing their business in the pre-season. So we don’t know much about how they will approach the match.

“On our side I think we have done a lot in terms of our preparations to this game. We hope the guys will go there and put up a better performance. We always play each game to win our matches and that will be the objective tomorrow (Friday),” he said.

While Harare City have gone about their business during the pre-season quietly, FC Platinum did not have a break due to their participation in the CAF Champions League campaign where they reached the group stages.

After losing the influential duo of Rodwell Chinyengetere and Winston Mhango, FC Platinum have bolstered their squad by signing the trio of utility player Godknows Murwira from Ngezi Platinum, former Triangle forward Lameck Nhamo and Perfect Chikwende from Bulawayo Chiefs.

Murwira will however have to wait a bit longer before making his PSL debut for his new club after suffering an ankle injury while in camp with the Warriors.

The last time the reigning champions came to Harare in August last year, they were beaten 1-0 by the Sunshine City Boys, a result that appeared to derail their championship campaign.

However, Norman Mapeza’s men regrouped to eventually lift the title for the second successive season.

On the other hand, Harare City finished a lowly ninth in the title race while also surrendering their Chibuku Super Cup after losing in the final to Triangle.

Harare City coach Mark Harrison however said he was confident they would put on a better show this season after strengthening their side during the pre-season.

“I think we have strengthened and I think the youngsters from the (their development side) Harare City Cubs are beginning to grow up as well which is a good thing and the competition in the squad is very strong now. I think the players need to stand up and be counted. I would like us to improve on what we did last year. We finished 9th last season and a top six will be a good improvement. That is what we are looking for this season,” the Englishman said.

Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Week one fixtures

Friday: Harare City vs FC Platinum (Rufaro)

Saturday: Black Rhinos vs Highlanders (NSS), Chicken Inn vs ZPC Kariba (Luveve), Mushowani Stars vs Dynamos (Rufaro), Chapungu vs Bulawayo City (Mandava)

Sunday: CAPS United vs Manica Diamond (NSS) Triangle vs Ngezi Platinum (Gibbo), Hwange vs Yadah (Colliery), Herentals v TelOne (Rufaro)