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Mapeza defends approach

BULAWAYO-FC PLATINUM coach Norman Mapeza has defended his tactics after seeing his charges condemned to the foot of the CAF Champions League football Group B standings following a narrow 0-1 defeat at the hands of Horoya AC of Guinea at home over the weekend.

Zimbabwe’s representatives in the CAF Champions League have failed to score a single goal in their last four consecutive matches in the African Safari.

Their impotence in front of goal means FC Platinum and Tunisian side Club Africain are the only two teams in the mini-league yet to score at the halfway mark. The Tunisians, however, have played just two games in the group after another participant, Ismaily, was ejected from the competition.

Mapeza deployed a team with four defenders, three holding midfielders, two offensive midfielders and one striker.

After his men failed to score a goal, some questioned the Zimbabwe championship-winning gaffer’s tactical approach as too defensive for a team which was desperate to collect full points.

Responding to questions from the media after the match, Mapeza said there was no way he was going to be negative as they wanted to collect maximum points.

“I cannot say we were very cautious because we wanted to play an open game. You cannot say we were too defensive or too open, it was game of football where we wanted a result.

“It is unfortunate they caught us on a counter and we ended up conceding that penalty. But we wanted to win this match so there was no way we were going to sit back and defend,” said Mapeza.

The Zvishavane-based miners only have one point from three matches. Orlando Pirates and Esperance are tied on five points apiece while Horoya have moved to four points. This leaves the Zimbabweans with a mountain to climb if they still hope to make it beyond the group stages.

However, the FC Platinum coach reminded stakeholders that even though they might be headed for a group stage demotion their primary objective was to learn the way in the African jungle.

“Mathematically, you might say that (we are out of the running for the quarter-finals) but like I said for us it is about experience. This is our first time to play in the Champions League (group stages), we just have to keep on working hard and see what happens in our remaining matches.

“For me as a coach and the players it is a good experience. We just have to continue working hard and see what happens in our next matches,” Mapeza said.

Meanwhile, the FC Platinum backline has been resolute in this competition and some of their players again showed their class at this level of the game on Saturday.

Reliable central defender Kevin Moyo and vice-captain Gift Bello proved why they deserved top billing with some vital interceptions at the back which meant the scoreline remained respectable.

The midfield duo of Kelvin Madzongwe and Farai Madhanaga did not disappoint either.

Charles Sibanda was isolated upfront in the early stages of the match but following some changes to the team which saw him dropping and playing as second striker, he showed the yester-year class has not deserted him.

Last season’s league second top-scorer Lameck Nhamo was introduced late in the game so was Ali Sadiki and they threatened the visitors goal area which might give Mapeza some encouragement for the return leg in Guinea next week. Herald

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