Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S Total Caf Champions League representatives FC Platinum are fretting over participation in the lucrative tournament, as they’re concerned by their players’ lack of game time.
The Zvishavane-based side, one of only three Zimbabwean sides, including Dynamos and Caps United, to reach the Champions League mini-league phase, last played a competitive match when they convincingly beat Highlanders 2-0 in the Castle Challenge Cup at Barbourfields Stadium in March before all sporting activities were brought to a halt due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
This year’s Caf Champions League was initially set to get underway this weekend with preliminary round matches, but it is now likely to roll into life sometime in October.
Some African countries have since resumed their leagues, but Zimbabwe hasn’t any given any indication of when competitions might start, although it was initially suggested that the season might get underway in September.
This, however, was before tightening of the lockdown regulations by the government due to surging infections driven by local transmissions.
Chronicle Sport understands that some members of the Pure Platinum Play executive were contemplating approaching the government for a special waiver for the team to start group training under strict observation of health guidelines so their players can maintain a certain level of fitness as the Champions League draw date gets closer.
FC Platinum spokesperson Chido Chizondo said they were in quandary and awaiting advice from club president Fabian Mashingaidze.
“At the moment we are all not sure of the way forward. Cases (Covid-19) keep rising so we are all uncertain of the next step. The president will have to advise us on a new position,” said 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%