The Sunday News
Mehluli Sibanda, Senior Sports Reporter
FC Platinum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .(1) 1
Al Ahly . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (0) 1
FC PLATINUM put up their finest show in their current campaign in the Caf Champions League against Al Ahly yesterday with their efforts though not enough to floor one of the giants of African football as they could only secure a draw at Barbourfields Stadium.
Yesterday’s result saw FC Platinum obtain their first point in four outings but they remain bottom of the group with a goal difference of minus six. FC Platinum now have two fixtures remaining, against Al Hilal at home and Étoile du Sahel in Tunisia.
Chances of progressing to the quarter-finals are almost zero for the Zimbabwe champions because even if they are to win their remaining fixtures, things are no longer in their hands.
The three-times in a row Zimbabwean champions were certainly not outclassed by the Egyptians and could have walked away with their first three set of points.
New signing Stanley Ngala scored FC Platinum’s second goal in the competition early in the first half in which Pure Platinum Play dominated. Marwan Mohsen secured the equaliser for Al Ahly at the beginning of the second stanza.
FC Platinum assistant coach, Lizwe Sweswe, while proud of the gallant display by his players felt that their failure to secure the three points came down to not being able to control the opening parts of the second half.
“It was a tough match but well done to the boys for putting up a brilliant performance, especially playing against one of the biggest teams in the contest. We nearly got the three points but maybe we failed to manage quarters of the game especially the first quarter of the second half,” Sweswe said.
Had they been sharp in front of goal, Sweswe reckoned they could have walked away with the three points.
“We gave it all especially in the first half, you could see how the boys were pushing until we got that goal, we had some chances even in the second half of which I think if our conversion rate was good, we could have won this game,’’ he said.
Sweswe was impressed by the progress made by the team from the previous three matches that they had played.
“What I am happy about is the improvement from the team, looking at the previous games which we played against these three teams, at least we’ve got some positives and then we take those positives going forward to the next games.”
Rene Weiler, Al Ahly coach was dissatisfied by failing to pick up three points since it is what they had come to Zimbabwe to achieve.
“It was a hard game, we didn’t play well in the first half, the second half was better but at the end we were disappointed because our target was to win three points here and we have to accept the result, the draw was deserved for both teams,” Weiler said.
FC Platinum had a great first half and got their reward in the 19th minute when Ngala guided the ball past a wrong-footed Mohamed El-Shenawy. Raphael Muduviwa whipped in a cross from the right, Guyve Nsiala did well to control the ball with his chest for Rainsome Pavari who provided the assist for Ngala.
Petros Mari produced a brilliant save to deny Oluwafemi Ajayi after a defensive blunder had presented the Nigerian with a goal scoring opportunity inside the box.
Substitute, Mahmoud Soliman wasted an opportunity to equalise for Al Ahly three minutes into the second half. It did not take long for the Egyptians to level matters, after Mhara had done well to deny Ajayi from close range, Mohsen slotted in the rebound as the FC Platinum defence failed to deal with the lurking danger.
Perfect Chikwende missed a glorious chance to put his team in front when he shot weakly at goal, with his effort not enough to trouble El-Shenawy.
The Egyptian first choice goalkeeper had to be at his best in the 82nd minute to deal with a shot by Ngala, which El-Shenawy pushed out for a corner.
FC Platinum: P Mhari, P Chikwende, K Madzongwe, R Muduviwa, G Nsiala (Chinyerere 90+5 mins), W Stima, R Pavari, L Mhlanga, L Jesi (Magaya 90+1 mins), S Ngala (Eonde 88 mins) , T Chikore
Al Ahly: M El-Shenawy, R Moustafa, M Magdy (Soliman 46 mins) A Ashraf, A Dieng (Mansour 78 mins), A El Solia, M Mohsen, A Maaloul, A Moneim, O Ajayi, H da Costa (El-Sayed 65 mins)