Senior Sports Reporter
SENEGALESE giants, ASC Jaraaf, are expected in Zimbabwe today for their battle against FC Platinum in the CAF Confederation Cup group stage play-offs.
The teams will meet in the first leg at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
The Dakar-based outfit are coming on the back of a promising league campaign at home, where they have won their last three matches on the bounce to assume pole position, after six games.
But, they are likely to arrive without head coach Malick Daf, who doubles up as the national Under-17 coach.
ASC Jaraaf are scheduled to begin their final leg of preparations at Alex Sports Club in Harare tomorrow, observing the strict health protocols in place, to curb the spreading of coronavirus.
FC Platinum spokesperson, Chido Chizondo, yesterday confirmed the West Africans’ itinerary.
ASC Jaraaf are the biggest and most successful club in Senegal with 12 league titles and 15 domestic cups in their trophy cabinet.
They are currently vying for a record 13th title. Their league started on January 10 and they began on a positive note when they dispatched cross-town rivals Dakar Sacre Coeur 1-0 in a local derby.
They have gathered momentum in the last two weeks after winning three games, on the trot, without conceding a goal.
Daf told local journalists in Senegal, after the 1-0 victory against ASAC Ndiambour at the weekend, that attention has since shifted to the Confederation Cup competition.
El Hadji Madické Kane scored the solitary goal as the side took their points tally to 13 from six outings.“Three wins in a row, that’s good, but I’m not looking at what is now behind.
“There’s already the game against FC Platinum and we’re focusing on that, “ he said. Jaraaf are experienced campaigners as they have represented Senegal in both the Champions League and Confederation Cup several times. They earned their place in the Confederation Cup group play-offs after edging fellow West Africans, FC San Pedro of Cote d’Ivore, in the first round.
The teams were inseparable after the two-legged first round tie had ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
But Jaraaf pulled through on the away goals rule courtesy of the 2-1 away win in the second leg.
They staged a comeback on foreign soil after they had lost the home match 0-1. They had also beaten Kano Pillars of Nigeria 3-1 in the preliminary round. ASC Jaraaf have not made it a secret they would want to go all the way.
The club have a rich football heritage as they have produced Senegalese legends like Henri Camara and the late Papa Bouba Diop, who both represented their country at the FIFA World Cup.
Their coach is respected in Senegal, after helping the Young Lions of Teranga reach the quarter-finals of the Under-17 FIFA World Cup on their debut appearance in Brazil two years ago.
Daf found himself facing a dilemma as he also needs to lead the junior age group team in the current AFCON qualifiers.
Apart from enjoying the fine run with his club, he led the Young Lions of Teranga to a 4-2 home win over Gambia in the AFCON qualifiers last Friday.
The team have another assignment today as they are scheduled to host Mauritania this evening. His opposite number, Norman Mapeza, has been quietly going about his business with the platinum miners in a bubble camp in Harare.
The platinum miners began a bubble camp in the capital last week, as part of the recommendations from Government, and health experts, in the efforts to curb the spread of coronavirus.
They began their preparations a week late as they waited for the green light from the authorities.
FC Platinum, who are led by medical doctor, Fabian Mashingaidze, have been religiously implementing the coronavirus health guidelines in line with the Government regulations.
The club was expected, among other things to facilitate mandatory testing of all players and officials, establish a minimum 10-day bubble camp and appoint a Covid-19 Compliance Officer to ensure full compliance with Covid-19 national and international protocols.
The three-time Zimbabwe champions dropped from the Champions League following a controversial 1-4 aggregate defeat to Tanzania’s Simba SC.
They have since unveiled two new signings following the arrival of former FC Platinum player Donald Ngoma and ex-Dynamos defender, Blessing Moyo.
Chizondo confirmed yesterday they have agreed terms with former their striker, Rodwell Chinyengetere, and goalkeeper Wallace Magalane.
“We have reached an agreement with Magalane. We are now left to tie the loose ends.
“We are also still negotiating with Innocent Mucheneka. There are still some outstanding issues,” said Chizindo.
She said the match against ASC Jaraaf will be played behind closed doors and will be broadcast on ZBC television and the club’s Facebook page.
The return leg is set for February 21 at the multi-purpose Stade Demba Diop in Dakar.