FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza says mental strength is key to the team’s progress in the 2015 Caf Confederations Cup.

\n

FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza

\n

Mapeza’s charges overcame a stern away test in Kenya last month, defeating Sofapaka 2-1 in the first leg of the Caf Confederations Cup preliminary round tie.

\n

Last Sunday, FC Platinum recovered from conceding the first goal, to win the second leg 2-1 at Mandava Stadium in Zvishavane for a 4-2 aggregate victory and it is his players’ display in the two tough encounters that has concince him that they have got the character to achieve further success.

\n

Mapeza believes that he has a group of fighters and even when pure platinum play conceeded an early goal in the fifth minute of last Sunday’s return leg when Tanzanian import Abdul Razzak converted a through pass from Enock Agwanda, his troops held their nerve and took control of proceedings thereon.

\n

“The lads have shown that they can handle pressure, an important attribute when it comes to continental football,” said Mapeza.

\n

“In Kenya when Sofapaka equalised, the guys did not panic but became more determined and we got the winning goal from Donald Ngoma.

\n

“On Saturday what was even more inspiring was the fact we were first to concede in front of our demanding fans, but the group kept its coolness and we grinded out a result against a good Sofapaka side.”

\n

Mapeza says now that his players have a feel of what continental assignments demand, the onus is now on the team to improve their fitness levels and technical awareness so that they can outsmart their potential opponents, most of whom are physical in their approach to the game.

\n

“We will also work on our defence so we avoid conceding and upfront, the strikers’ conversion ratio needs to improve, but by-and-large the footballing philosophy I have imparted to the team is there for everyone to see.

\n

“The focus for us is on possession football, making it harder for the opponents to have possession of the ball. This way we have been maintaining our shape and compactness,” said Mapeza, who commended the platinum miners’ latest acquisitions for the instant impact they have made at the club.

\n

“On the new signings, Emmanuel Mandiranga, Wellington Kamudyariwa and Brian Muzondiwa, I would say they have added value, depth and competition which is a welcome development in light of our participation in the Confederations Cup and the league as well as other cup tournaments.”

\n

FC Platinum’s impressive display in the preliminary round against Sofapaka also impressed the Kenyan outfit’s Ugandan coach Sam Timbe, who has tipped the Zvishavane-based side to reach the latter stages of the competition.

\n

Timbe said: “They (FC Platinum) have good wingers and midfielders who complement each other very well and move and play as a unit. On the balance of play in the two games, I tip them to go far in the competition though I am bit worried with the players’ height and size because they are not imposing.”

\n

Mapeza, for his part, is aiming for the mini-league phase of the Caf Confederations Cup.

\n

“We are treating each game as it comes, and the immediate target is the first round match against Young Africans from Tanzania. But the ultimate goal is to go as far as possible.It is every coach’s wish to do well and I always aim higher in everything I do,” he said.