Eddie Chikamhi and Mukudzei Chingwere
FC Platinum have lined up international friendly matches against opponents from Zambia and Mozambique as they look to sharpen up ahead of their participation in the Champions League this year. Just like their local predecessors in the tournament CAPS United, the platinum miners have targeted Mozambican giants Ferroviario da Beira and Zambian sides Nkana Red Devils and Zanaco as sparring partners ahead of their return to the Champions League early next month.
A source close to the deals confirmed the documents were signed yesterday for the three teams to come to Zimbabwe. Ferroviario da Beira are expected in Zimbabwe first for a match that has been pencilled for January 27 while Nkana will be next on February 3. The platinum miners are currently camping in Bulawayo where they are having an intensive programme under coach Norman Mapeza.
FC Platinum spokesperson confirmed the plans, but maintained they have not received confirmations from the teams. “We have not yet confirmed with the clubs, but we are looking to play the last weekend of January and the first weekend of February. It’s very important to get the opportunity to play foreign teams so that we get to test ourselves against teams that play a different type of football from ours. We are targeting teams that play in the Champions League so that we get a feel of what to expect at that level,” said Chizondo.
Ferroviario, Nkana and Zanaco gave CAPS United good competition during their preparations and the Green Machine went on all the way and qualified for the group stages of Africa’s premier club football competition even at the expense of heavyweights TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Football agent George Deda who was involved when CAPS United played the teams from the neighbouring countries home and away, is also at the centre of the deal.
Chizondo said FC Platinum are also looking to have training matches against local teams and are hoping the side would emulate their predecessors CAPS United. “I will not go into the technical aspects of the game, but we appreciate that CAPS United went far in the tournament and for us it’s also important to aim to make a mark. So we are doing our best in the preparations,” said Chizondo.
FC Platinum will be Zimbabwe’s sole representatives in Africa next year after Chibuku Super Cup champions Harare City pulled out of the second tier Confederation Cup. Meanwhile, new FC Platinum striker Albert Eonde has set himself an ambitious target of inspiring the Premiership kings to the Champions League crown.
The Cameroonian arrived in the country early this year and is aware that he would have to emulate the strong performance by compatriot Christian Epoupa Ntouba who had a fine maiden season at giants Dynamos last year. Although Ntouba fizzled out at a crucial stage of the season he had done enough to convince the DeMbare faithful that he was a good striker.
Some of the Dynamos faithful even attributed their team’s failure to win the title to Ntouba’s loss of scoring form towards the end of the season. Mapeza emphasised the importance of having a proven goal-getter in any competition and has brought Eonde and Zambian striker Shadreck Mayembe to boost his strike-force, which laboured to score a meagre 40 goals in 34 matches.
The 19-year-old Eonde told The Herald that he is in the country to help his employers address their goal-scoring impotency and be the best in the country. “FC Platinum has a double challenge this year including maintaining its league title and winning the CAF Champions League. My goal here is to contribute to the achievement of these two goals.
“The role of a striker is to score and help to score goals. The leaders of FC Platinum recruited me to give goals and that is the best job that I know. I am here to play and to be the best in this championship.
“The African championship is a very big competition that brings together the best teams of different championships. FC Platinum hopes to have a good performance in this tournament and I intend to bring my experience so that our service is more honourable,” said Eonde.
“Of course I know Epoupa he is an excellent player. He has (had) a fantastic season in 2017, but he was already very good . . . before arriving here. I must admit that he told me a lot about this championship, about the atmosphere here.
“He also has very good relations with his current club he would have liked that I come to play with him, (laughs) but you know I have a great manager Mr Gilbert (Sengwe), who is at the same time the manager of Epoupa, he’s like a father to me, he influences me a lot by his professionalism and sincerity.
“So I told myself that if Epoupa has made this great season here, it’s a challenge for me to do more especially that in addition we will play the Champions League,” Eonde said.