Sports

Mapeza impressed by Harare camp benefits

Norman Mapeza

Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter

FC PLATINUM coach, Norman Mapeza, believes their camp in Harare brought a number of benefits for the team.

The Zvishavane miners are set to take on Costa do Sol of Mozambique in a CAF Champions League showdown tomorrow.

Mapeza’s men won the first leg in Maputo 2-1.

They then set up base in the capital, ahead of the return match set for the National Sports Stadium.

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Mapeza, who returned to the club just a few days before the trip to Mozambique, has been impressed by the team spirit during the closed-door sessions in Harare.

“The mood in the camp has been good, it’s been great. I think our camping in Harare has brought some massive bonding among the players,” he told The Herald yesterday.

The match will be played behind closed doors, because of the coronavirus health guidelines.

The Zimbabwe champions, however, will stream the game live on their Facebook page, FC Platinum.net.

The away win put them in a strong position but Mapeza insisted they should not be carried away.

He insists it is still game on as a 0-2 defeat could turn the tide in favour of the visitors.

“The message has been to guard against complacency,” he said.

“It’s not going to be easy. Costa do Sol are a very good team and I think they will come here with guns blazing.

“They have got nothing to lose and I am sure they will come looking for those two goals which could allow them to qualify to the next stage.

“The message has been clear.

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“Let’s guard against complacency.”

Mapeza, who quit FC Platinum in September last year, was happy to be back in the trenches last week, after replacing Dutch coach, Hendrik Pieter de Jongh.

The former Zimbabwe captain and coach says a lot has changed during his one-year absence.

The club, who reached the group stages in previous two campaigns, have upped the stakes.

They now want to reach the knock-out stages of the tournament for the first time in their history.

Mapeza said he was excited to be back in the trenches of CAF’s premier inter-club competition.

“So many things have changed since I left the club, I think about a year ago, from the players, the executive, etc.

“But, just seeing everybody in good health, was fantastic.

“I can’t say I really missed Champions League football much but it’s always great when you get involved in such competitions.

“It makes you see, and meet some of the top clubs on the continent, and also get to learn different things from them.

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“It’s always great to be involved in such competitions,” said Mapeza.

Midfielder Ralph Kawondera and newboy Elias Maguri, from Tanzania, were on target in the first leg in Mozambique.

Kawondera struck in the 70th minute with his head following fine midfield work by Kelvin Madzongwe.

The hosts drew level towards the end but Maguri gave FC Platinum the advantage with a brilliant strike just before the final whistle.

Costa do Sol, who are based in Maputo, were expected in Harare yesterday.

They could not fly straight from Maputo, after their flight was cancelled on Wednesday.

They had to fly to Chimoio and then entered Zimbabwe via the Forbes border post, for a final 360km road trip.

They are expected to train at the match venue today.

Zambian referee Kasokota Kafuli Derrick has been tasked with handling the match.

He will be assisted by compatriots Romeo Kasengele and Chiwoyu Kapembwa Sinyangwe, with 2018 World Cup referee Janny Sikazwe standing in as the fourth official.

The match commissioner is Inacio Manuel Candido from Angola.

The winners are set to face the winner of the match between Nigeria’s Plateau United and Simba of Tanzania in the first round.

Simba carry a 1-0 advantage from their win away in Nigeria last weekend.

HERALD