Senior Sports Reporter
FC Platinum 0
ASC Jaraaf (0) 1
FC PLATINUM now have a huge mountain to climb, in their quest to make the CAF Confederation Cup group stages, after a self-inflicted home defeat to Senegalese giants ASC Jaraaf yesterday.
The two sides, who are battling in the qualifying play-offs, met in the first leg at the National Sports Stadium.
This defeat, once again, showed the cost which domestic football is paying for the absence of the national game in the country.
Clearly, the tempo hasn’t been the same as the players, who usually benefit from playing as many competitive matches as they can, have found themselves struggling to shift into the next gear.
This year alone, Zimbabwean representative teams have now lost all their FIVE matches, conceding 10 goals, and scoring just one.
The Warriors lost all their three matches at the CHAN finals, scoring just one goal, and letting in five.
FC Platinum were also hammered 0-4 by Tanzanian giants, Simba SC, in a CAF Champions League match in Dar es Salaam.
And, yesterday, the Zvishavane side appeared to shoot themselves in the foot.
First, Silas Songani failed to give the home side the lead, after fluffing his lines from the penalty spot, in the 25th minute.
Then, Gift Bello was equally culpable, with an added-time horror miss, when the hosts needed to salvage a goal, to give themselves hope.
They had fallen behind to a disputed second half goal.
Albert Lamane Diene’s 67th minute solitary strike was the difference which could seal the platinum miners’ fate.
Playing at home first, FC Platinum needed to win by a healthy margin, to get the cushion they needed.
But, the Zimbabwean champions lacked the hunger to go for the kill and wasted a couple of good chances.
The Zvishavane miners, who lacked the cutting edge upfront in previous games, immediately threw into the fray their new acquisitions, Donald Teguru and Donald Ngoma, in search of goals at home.
Instead, it was Songani, who was given the chance to hand them the lead when referee, Victor Gomes, awarded a penalty in the 25th minute.
Gift Mbweti was fouled inside the box by Mamadou Cherif Diallo, following a fine exchange with Teguru, and the referee was spot on, despite the protests from the Senegalese players.
And Songani, who returned to the starting line-up after missing FC Platinum’s last match in the CAF Champions League first round defeat to Tanzania’s Simba SC, took responsibility from the spot.
The attacking midfielder, however, spurned the golden opportunity when his shot, to the right of the goalkeeper, was saved by the diving Pape Seydou N’Diaye.
The penalty could have been the turning point of the game, had Songani converted, as the platinum miners would have siezed the initiative.
The hosts knew the importance of a big win, to try and make their assignment eaiser, when the two sides meet in the second leg in Dakar, next week.
Newboy Teguru then had his fine effort saved, after 30 minutes, when he turned his markers inside and unleashed a low left-footer which was saved by the goalkeeper at the near post.
FC Platinum coach, Norman Mapeza, made a double substitution at the break, in the hope of turning around the game, but the effects of the lockdown on domestic football continued to show.
Teguru, who joined FC Platinum this month, showed some glimpses of brilliance but he could not connect at the back post, after a good cross by substitute Raphael Muduviwa, in the 54th minute.
ASC Jaraaf goalkeeper N’Diaye also made another good save, when he blocked Nomore Chinyerere’s ferocious shot from distance, before Ngoma missed a free header from inside the box.
FC Platinum suffered a defensive lapse in the 67th minute, and were duly punished, when substitute Papa Paye beat an off-side trap and set up the goalscorer Diene, who found a way past the badly exposed goalkeeper, Petros Mhari.
Mhari was again called to make some crucial saves, denying Ousmane Sagna and Papa Paye, who came close with free headers late on.
FC Platinum still had a chance to salvage a point but Bello, somehow, crashed his effort against the woodwork, with the goal at his mercy.
It’s probably one of the worst misses seen on the domestic football scene and, that Below is a defender, not used to such opportunities, should not provide him with any extenuating circumstances, in the soul-searching exercise, which will follow this defeat,
Donald Ngoma had beaten the ‘keeper, to a long ball, and set up the veteran defender inside the box.
Somehow, with the goal at his mercy, Bello failed to simply guide the ball home.
It was a horror miss and, in a way, summed up a bad day at the office for the home team.
The Zvishavane side will now need to win by, at least a two-goal margin, in the return leg at the Stade Demba Diop in Dakar next Sunday.
FC Platinum: P Mhari, G. Mbweti, N. Chinyerere, G. Bello, L. Mhlanga, K. Madzongwe, B. Banda (R. Kawondera, 81st minute), R. Pavari (R. Muduviwa, 46th min), S. Songani (I. Mucheneka, 46th min), D. Teguru (R. Chinyengetere, 74th min), D. Ngoma
ASC Jaraaf: P N’Diaye, J. Bocande, B. Seck, M. Sylla, S. Sissokho, M. Kane, M. Diallo (M. Kone, 79th min), A. Tendeng (O. Mbengue, 46th min), P. Ndiaye (P. Paye, 62nd min), A. Diene, M. Ndiaye