FC Platinum’s opponents set the bar high

Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter

FC PLATINUM’S opponents in the CAF Champions League preliminary first round, GD Sagrada Esperança of Angola, are looking to set the bar a little higher.

The club are sponsored by Angola’s state-run diamond company, ENDIAMA, and their partners, in the country’s mining industry.

The company announced recently they are setting aside about US$3 million, for the team’s 2021-2022 league campaign, and participation, in the continental club tournament.

The club gobbled, at least, US$2 million, during the last campaign, when they won their second championship, in 44 years. 

The success has been met with great excitement in Dundo, a mining city north of the country, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The chairman of the company’s board of directors, José Manuel Ganga Júnior, confirmed their commitment to pour in more resources towards the team’s quest for honours at home and abroad. 

According to reports, the value can be increased, depending on the negotiations with companies in the diamond sub-sector, as happened in the previous season.

Sagrada are likely to host FC Platinum at their Estádio Sagrada Esperança home ground, which has an interesting resemblance to FC Platinum’s Mandava, in appearance. 

The stadium has undergone several renovations, in the past few years. 

And, as a demonstration of their financial clout, the club have been splashing money all over the place.

Radio 5 in Angola reported GD Sagrada Esperanca players will receive a bonus of approximately US$62,600 each, from their sponsors, for winning the 2020/21 Girabola title. 

The entire team was set to get US$37,600 as prize money from the Angola Football Federation.

They had last won the championship in 2005. 

The 2021 title-winning coach Roque Sapiri was part of the playing squad then and he has just achieved a new milestone.

However, Sapiri cannot sit on their bench, in the African safari, because he does not possess the required qualifications, under CAF regulations.

CAF have made it clear that coaches have to be holders of CAF A badges, in order to be able to sit on the bench, in the Champions League.

Fellow Angolan team Petro Atletico, will also be forced to look elsewhere.

Their coach, Mateus Agostinho “Bodunha,” does not have a CAF A licence.

The duo have CAF C coaching badges and they can’t even be allowed to work as assistant coaches, in the continental inter-club games.

Sagrada won the Angolan championship on July 31, after beating nearest rivals Petro de Luanda 1-0, thanks to Luís Tati’s 21st-minute goal, in the final round. 

The match was not without its controversy as it was nearly abandoned, in the 35th minute, as Sagrada players walked off the pitch in protest over a penalty decision.

Their fans went on a rampage and destroyed property at the November 11 Stadium.

The penalty was eventually taken, after a stoppage of almost half an hour, and Petro Luanda missed. 

Sagrada went on to claim a slim victory and finished this season with 70 points, three more than runners-up Petro de Luanda.

The success has cheered the small city of Dundo, which is approximately 1200km away, from Luanda.

The last time they took part in the CAF Champions League was in 2006 and they were eliminated in the preliminary round. FC Platinum have started their preparations in earnest. 

The Zvishavane side have not seen regular football action, in the last two years, because of Covid-19 lockdowns.

They now have under four weeks to prepare for the first leg, set for September 10-12, after the Sports Commission granted them permission to train, last week, with stringent requirements.

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