Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
Harare City captain Themba Ndlovu says the Sunshine Boys need a clean sheet at home as they aim to win the first leg of the CAF Confederation Cup preliminary round match against AS Adema at Rufaro this Saturday.
The former Dynamos and Motor action man yesterday said they are targeting a positive start to make the job easier when they travel to Madagascar for the return leg in a fortnight.
Ndlovu yesterday challenged the Sunshine Boys to put behind them the feeling that they are playing in Africa for the first time and try to maximise on home advantage.
The tough tackling defender though is not new to continental competitions after featuring in the Champions League for the first time with Motor Action in 2011 and defeating another Malagasy side CNAPS Sport through a penalty shoot-out.
He said they are not expecting an easy match against their more experienced opponents who have represented Madagascar several times in both the Confederation Cup and the Champions League.
AS Adema are returning to the African Safari this year following a four hiatus. In 2010 they played Zimbabwean opponents Lengthens in the same competitions and lost 2-1 aggregate.
“It will be a tricky game but we have to win it at all costs. At least we need to keep a clean sheet at home and try to score goals here.
“We have to fight hard on Saturday and then we see what happens next. I believe it’s an advantage that we are starting at home since we are coming from the off-season.
“It’s our first competitive game this year and that should help us settle and boost our confidence. So we need to try hard and score goals at home,” said Ndlovu.
“We don’t expect something from them that is very different from the way we play here except that they are a bit faster. I played against one of the teams from Madagascar with Motor Action in 2010 and we won there.
“But obviously we should not expect the same standards because some countries have been developing and there could be some changes to the way they play. So it could be tricky.”
Harare City are aiming to reach the mini-league stage in their debut season in Africa. They have beefed up their squad by bringing on board players such as Raphael Manuvire, Ronald Chitiyo, Edwin Madhananga, Blessing Moyo and Jimmy Tigere.
However, one of the newboys Tigere will miss the preliminary round as he has been ruled out for the next three weeks after picking a foot injury in the friendly match against Chapungu.
AS Adema are expected to arrive in Harare tomorrow morning and then train at the match venue in the afternoon. In an effort to lure many fans to the game, the hosts have reduced ticket prices for the match to $1 for the rest of the ground, $3 for the Upper Grand Stand while the VIP fans will pay $5. The match will be handled by officials from Angola and kick off is 2pm on Saturday.
City have this week introduced double training sessions to intensify their preparations. Taurai Mangwiro’s men have not had the luxury of playing foreign opponents as part of their preparations but they have played local teams and rounded up their preparatory games last weekend when they beat newly promoted Bulawayo City 2-0 at Barbourfields.
“The unfortunate part about these friendlies is that they may deceive you because you have the luxury of changing even the whole team at half-time but with the Confederation Cup you have to stick to the laws of the game where its maximum three substitutes.” said Mangwiro.
“That’s where we find ourselves at a disadvantage because you are looking at a team that has been active in their season and for us we have been off-season but we don’t want to have that as an excuse because I am sure the five weeks of preparation that we have had should see us ready to take them on.”