Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Acting Sports Editor
FC Platinum will today hold their first training session at Barbourfields Stadium ahead of their Total Caf Champions League Group B opener at the same venue on Saturday.
Pure Platinum Play arrived in the City of Kings and Queens yesterday from their base in Zvishavane where they have been training since January 2.
“We get to feel our home turf, Barbourfields, tomorrow,” the club’s public relations officer Chido Chizondo told Chronicle Sport yesterday.
Its going to be an emotional return to Emagumeni for veteran striker Mkhokheli Dube, Charles Sibanda, Rainsome Pavari, Perfect Chikwende, Lawrence Mhlanga, William Stima, Kelvin Madzongwe, Rahman Kutsanzira, Thomas Chideu as well as Edmore Chirambadare.
These 10 FC Platinum players once called the venue home before being snapped by the platinum miners.
The Moyo twins, Elvis and Kevin despite being Highlanders junior players, were largely used to the outside grounds of Emagumeni as youngsters.
Barbourfields Stadium is likely to be filled to the brim despite the fact that gate charges have been hiked which will see the cheapest ticket going for $5 for the rest of the ground with those who will be at the wings set to part with $10 while VIP comfort costs $20.
Orlando Pirates are expected to touch down at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport on Friday, a day before the epic encounter.
Rwandan officials will handle the duel on Saturday where Jean-Claude Ishimwe will be the centre referee assisted by Dieudonne Mutuyimana and Theoogene Ndagijimana.
After the Orlando Pirates clash, Norman Mapeza’s charges fly out to Tunisia to play against defending champions Esperance at the Stade Olympique 07 Novemre Rades on January 18 before playing host to Guinea’s Horoya at Barbourfields Stadium early next month.
There will be back to back away matches for the Zimbabwean champions after that, facing Horoya on February 12 and then Orlando Pirates across the Limpopo on March 8 before wrapping up their Group B matches with a home match against Esperance a week later.
The top two sides from the group advance to the quarterfinals stage.
While some critics have ruled out the Zimbabwean champions from progressing beyond the group stages, the squad has tried and trusted soldiers who can stand up against any opponents on the continent.
Goalkeeper Petros Mhari, who was magnanimous to concede Highlanders’ Ariel Sibanda was the best goalkeeper on the local scene last season and voted for him despite the fact that he too was a contender for the same award, has been in incredible form in between the sticks, so has the big Mhlanga at the heart of defence.