WARRIORS and Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Willard Katsande believes Zimbabwe’s representative in the African Confederation of African Football Champions League, FC Platinum, have the capacity to go beyond the group stages of the competition despite facing some of the continent’s big hitters.
BY HENRY MHARA
The Zvishavane-based side begin their tough Group B campaign with a clash against South African giants Orlando Pirates at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo this afternoon.
The Group also contains defending champions Esperance of Tunisia whom they face next week well as Guinea champions Horoya completes group B.
Katsande admitted that Norman Mapeza’s team faces a huge task in their bid to make an impression in their debut appearance in the continent’s premier club competition, but believes that with a good approach, they have a chance to progress to the next stage.
“It’s a very tough group, no doubt about that, but my personal feeling is that they (FC Platinum) will go far because they have the best coach and some of the best facilities. So I think they will make Zimbabwe proud,” he said.
Katsande plays for Pirates’ biggest rival Kaizer Chiefs in the South African premiership, and naturally he would be happy to see the Buccaneers fall.
Asked about FC Platinum’s chances in this afternoon’s match, his response was straightforward: “FC Platinum will win. They will beat them. They (FC Platinum) just need to be aggressive; I’m sure they will win,” he said.
After the Pirates match, Mapeza’s men travel to Tunis where they face their hosts on Friday next week in what should be their toughest assignment of the campaign.
On February 1, they host Horoya before travelling to Guinea two weeks later in back to back matches.
FC Platinum’s next match will be away to Pirates in the first weekend of March and they conclude their campaign with a home match against Esperance seven days later.
Top two teams from the group qualify to the quarterfinals of the competition.
“The trick is to win all your home matches, and try to get a point away from home. If FC Platinum can do that, they will definitely qualify to the next stage,” Katsande reckons.
This is the first time that FC Platinum will be appearing in the group stage, and they are going against seasoned campaigners and past winners of the competition, who know exactly what to do at this stage.
Katsande, though, is still optimistic about the team’s chances.
“They have experience in their coach (Mapeza), and some of the players are playing in the national team, sothey have experience to play such kind of games.”