Sikhumbuzo Moyo recently in Luanda, Angola
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza believes adverse weather conditions did not play a part in his side’s unexpected 3-0 defeat at the hands of Desportivo de Agosto in the Total Caf Champions League first leg encounter played at the Estadio 11 Novembro on Sunday.
Pure Platinum Play crumbled like a deck of cards, conceding two simple goals that could have been avoided. The first came in the seventh minute and the second nine minutes into the second half before a beauty by Jacques sealed their fate in the 62nd minute.
The match was played under high humidity conditions that left even ordinary supporters sweating on the terraces. Mapeza said while weather conditions were volatile, they had no part in the loss. The Zvishavane-based side spent three days in Luanda before Sunday’s battle.
“I don’t think weather conditions had any effect on us. I think the guys did very well; they never showed any signs of tiredness, but it was just those blunders that derailed us,” said Mapeza.
He said he spoke to his players before the game about the importance of total concentration in the first quarter of the game, but that never happened and the same instruction was given at half time. However, the home side got their second goal moments after the resumption.
Besides the two calamitous mistakes, FC Platinum were able to revert to their normal game, as they searched for that elusive away goal, which would have made their lives better when the Angolans visit Mandava Stadium for the return leg next weekend.
However, the technical team also failed to adjust their game plan when their initial plan lacked the necessary impetus, as the home team congested the midfield, with Ibukun causing all sorts of problems whenever he was in possession. The Nigerian never lost possession of the ball and his passes were defence-splitting.
Anchorman and captain of the day Winston Mhango was also a pale shadow of himself, often coming up with stray passes that put the defence of Lawrence Mhlanga and the Moyo twins Kevin and Elvis under a lot of pressure.
Lone striker Mkhokheli Dube was never given any room to breathe by the home team’s defence, probably a sign that coach Zoran Manojlovic had done a thorough job of studying FC Platinum’s play prior to the game.
It was therefore no surprise that the Zimbabweans’ three shots on target came from long range efforts; the first from Rahman Kustanzira, who forced a corner kick after goalkeeper Neblu failed to handle his shot. Ali Sadiki also unleashed a stinging shot from outside the box.
Soccer Star of the Year Rodwell Chinyengetere thought he had brought his side level with a well struck volley from about 40 metres out in the 55th minute, but Neblu rose high to tip it over the bar for a corner kick.
The strike momentarily brought total silence in the stadium, which had all along been a noisy sea of red and black clad home team supporters and one could sense a huge sigh of relief when their goalkeeper averted the danger.
Despite the morale-sapping defeat, Mapeza was still optimistic they could turn the tables and progress to the next stage of the tournament.
“You never know with football; if you remember last season, [Paris] Saint-Germain beat Barcelona 4-0, but the score line was turned around in Spain as they went on to lose 6-1 at Camp Nou. It can happen in football. It’s about belief and we just have to keep believing,” said Mapeza.
Closer to home, Highlanders carried a seemingly healthy 3-0 lead over Cameroonian champions Sable De Battie in 2000 in the same competition before the Cameroonians turned on the power back home and the rest is history.
Meanwhile, FC Platinum arrived home yesterday.