Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Acting Sports Editor
FC PLATINUM will fly to Maputo, Mozambique via a chartered flight tomorrow for their Total Caf Champions league preliminary round first leg encounter against Costa do Sol this weekend.
The Zvishavane headquartered outfit are still fresh from an eventful week that saw Caf banning their Dutch coach Pieter De Jongh from sitting on the bench for Champions league matches because he does not hold a Uefa Pro licence or Caf A badge. The Dutchman holds a Uefa A coaching badge.
The announcement seemed to have caught Pure Platinum Play unawares and panic spread across as they faced the reality of going to Mozambique without a coach since assistant coach Patrick Mandizha also does not have a Caf A badge.
An amicable decision to part ways with De Jongh was arrived at before a sensational return of former gaffer Norman Mapeza was announced.
Mapeza will now lead the team in Mozambique.
“The team leaves for Maputo via a chartered flight on Thursday,” said the club spokesperson Chido Chizondo.
Pure Platinum Play have played 26 matches in the Champions League, having made their maiden appearance in 2012 when they were knocked out in the first round by Sudan’s Al Merreikh following a 2-5 aggregate loss.
FC Platinum had walloped Green Mamba of Eswatini 8-2 on aggregate in the preliminary round.
They made a return to the African safari in the same competition in 2018, although they had participated in the less lucrative Caf Confederation Cup in 2015, beating Sofapaka of Kenya 4-2 on aggregate in the preliminary round before losing 2-5 in the first-round to Tanzania’s Young Africans.
In 2018, FC Platinum were bundled out of the tournament by Angola’s Agosto, who beat them 1-5 in the preliminary round.
They were to make a break-through by qualifying to the group stages in the 2018-19 version of the Champions League, getting their campaign underway with a 2-1 aggregate win over Madagascar’s Cnaps Sport in the preliminary round before accounting for Congo Brazzaville’s AS Otoho, albeit on an away goals rule after the two teams drew 1-1 in Otoho and 0-0 at Mandava Stadium.
They were then drawn in Group B alongside Orlando Pirates, then defending champions Esperance and Guinea’s Horoya.
Two home and away draws against Orlando Pirates and losses at home and on the road to Esperance and Horoya saw Pure Platinum Play bowing out of the competition bottom of the group and winless.
They were back again the following season where they faced Callisto Pasuwa’s Nyasa Big Bullets of Malawi in the preliminary round, holding them to a nil-all draw in Blantyre before a nervy 3-2 win in the second leg at Barbourfields Stadium saw them progressing to the first-round and needing to beat UD Songo of Mozambique in order to get another dance in the group stages.
A 5-2 aggregate victory over the Mozambicans saw then become only the second local side to make back-to-back Caf Champions League group stage appearances after Dynamos.
Like their maiden campaign in the group stages, Pure Platinum play failed to register any victory, managing a single home draw against Al Ahly and losing the rest of the matches to Etoile du Sahel of Tunisia and Al Hilal of Sudan as well as to Egyptian giants Al Ahly.
FC Platinum’s Total Caf Champions League record
P W D L F A Pts
26 6 6 14 26 38 24
Success rate: 23.08%