Lovemore Dube in Nairobi, Kenya
ZIMBABWE’S representatives in the caf Confederation Cup FC Platinum yesterday failed to access the Nyayo Stadium, the venue for the preliminary round clash with Sofapaka due to another continental fixture.
The stadium played host to a caf Champions League game between home side Gor Mahia and Cnaps of Madagascar. Mahia won the tie 1-0 courtesy of a first minute penalty.
Norman Mapeza, the platinum miners coach, confirmed that they did not train at the venue as is the norm. According to caf rules, the away team must train at the match venue at almost the same time as the scheduled match the following day.
Instead, FC Platinum trained for almost 90 minutes at the Ruwarahara Stadium in the morning.
However, FC Platinum had a feel of the match venue after the Gor Mahia and Cnaps match, where they loosened up and did some ball drills for almost an hour.
“We did not train because of the international match. So we will train after the game,” said Mapeza.
The boys looked up to the task unperturbed about the other side of African football as they went about their business in the evening seemingly undeterred.
Kenyan journalist Timothy Okobulu of the People Daily said it was a common practice for teams to play on the same weekend in African tournaments if they are drawn to start at home on the same weekend.
He said most of the city’s big guns tended to opt for the 35 000-seater Nyayo Stadium because of its proximity to most of the fans on the western side of Nairobi, on the outskirts of the central business district.
“It is convenient for the supporters to get here (Nyayo Stadium). The other venues are far away from the fans,” said Okobulu.
Okobulu said the match was likely to attract half of the crowd which watched the Gor Mahia and Cnaps match yesterday.
“They are a church team. They do not have a big following perhaps we will have about 2 000 fans at the stadium for the match,” said Okobulu.
Sofapaka go into the match after a tumultuous week in which they were beaten 2-1 by Gor Mahia in the Kenyan Super Cup on Wednesday. Both teams were later fined by the Kenyan Football Federation, who had not sanctioned the match.
FC Platinum, who are a good mix of experience and youth, will have to keep an eye on Antony Ndolo, the reigning Kenyan Footballer of the Year.
He is a good artist on the field and enjoys super star status in the country and should he click and combine well with Abdul Razah, the visitors could have a torrid afternoon. Thabani Kamusoko’s defining presence in midfield will be key to FC Platinum’s performance this afternoon as he has been outstanding for the Zvishavane-based side over the last two years and had a clean sweep three weeks ago at the club’s awards night.
Twins — Kelvin and Elvis Moyo — are set to start in a defence line-up that could have enterprising Raphael Muduviwa at right back with captain Aaron Katebe adding the much-needed steel in central defence.
Donald Ngoma and Nelson Maziwisa are expected to lead the attack with some good flair extended to the winning bid by youngsters Emmanuel Mandiranga, Wisdom Mutasa, Tendai Dzumbunu and Walter Musona.
The mood in the camp was one of an upbeat group looking forward to a decent showing to cushion themselves ahead of the second leg in two weeks’ time.
The match is set for 1400HRS Zimbabwean time. Head of delegation Masimba Chihowa said all was well in the camp.
The boys’ morale was raised by the arrival of sponsors resident director Peter Chimbodza, club chairman Dumisani Sisale, some executive members and supporters yesterday.
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