Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S representatives in the Confederation of African Football Champions League, FC Platinum will start their preparations with a training camp in Bulawayo from tomorrow.
FC Platinum coach, Norman Mapeza said they had chosen to fine tune for continental action away from Zvishavane so as to give his players time to get to know each other. The 2017 Castle Lager Premier Soccer League champions will be training at the Old Mutual Heath Streak Academy.
They face Angolan side, Clube Desportivo Primeiro de Agosto in the preliminary stand, with the first leg away during the weekend of 9 to 11 February while the second is scheduled for the period between 16 to 18 February.
“We will be having our training in Bulawayo for one month, friendly games to be played locally and outside depending on the club finances. We want to be away from Zvishavane, players need to rest, for bonding as well,’’ Mapeza said.
Some of the players registered by the Zimbabwean champions are former Chicken Inn defender Lawrence Mhlanga who spent the whole of last season inactive as the Gamecocks blocked his move to Zvishavane. Mhlanga is joined by on-loan right-back Jameson Mukombwe as the champions look to beef up their rearguard.
The other players who were not part of the championship winning side include former Highlanders skipper Rahman Kutsanzira, exNgezi Platinum Stars captain Liberty Chakoroma, Kelvin Madzongwe, Never Tigere, Nigel Papias who returned from a loan stint with relegated Bantu Rovers as well as goalkeeper Collin Phiri who has also been recalled after a spell with Hwange.
FC Platinum have registered two foreign strikers, Cameroonian Albert Eonde and Shadreck Mayembe of Zambia. The duo adds to the firepower which already has Mkhokheli Dube, Gift Mbweti, Papias and Charles Sibanda.
Mapeza described the new additions as excellent athletes certain to bring in another aspect of the game to his side.
“They are all quality players and I am sure they will bring another dimension to the team,’’ he said.
For FC Platinum, this is the second time that they will be making an appearance in the Caf Champions League, having made their debut in 2012 where they went as far as the first round. Sudanese side Al-Merreikh ended FC Platinum’s first dance in continental football when they defeated the 2011 Zimbabwean league runners-up with a 5-2 aggregate score line.
FC Platinum squad for Caf Champions League
Goalkeepers: Francis Tizayi, Petros Mhari, Wallace Magalane, Collin Phiri
Defenders: Raphael Muduviwa, Jameson Mukombwe, Elvis Moyo, Kevin Moyo, William Stima, Gift Bello, Lawrence Mhlanga
Midfielders: Winston Mhango, Nqobizitha Masuku, Liberty Chakoroma, Never Tigere, Kelvin Madzongwe, Marshall Mudehwe, Hillary Bakacheza, Rahman Kutsanzira, Rodwell Chinyengetere, Bret Amidu, Ali Sadiki
Strikers: Mkhokheli Dube, Gift Mbweti, Albert Eonde, Shadreck Mayembe, Nigel Papias, Charles Sibanda