FC Platinum are exploring a number of options, to ensure the team’s capacity to represent Zimbabwe in the CAF Champions League is not compromised by some technical hitches.
This follows CAF’s decision to turn down an appeal to give club coach, Hendrikus Pieter De Jongh, a special dispensation to take charge of matches in the continent’s flagship inter-club tournament.
The Dutchman does not have a CAF A licence and his alternative coaching badge, from Europe, was deemed not to be equivalent, or superior, to the continental governing body’s qualification.
His assistant, Patrick Mandizha, is a holder of a CAF B licence.
Ironically, the last CAF A licence course to be held in Zimbabwe was in 2017 which means that a coach like De Jongh, who came here last year, was not afforded a chance to enrol for such a badge.
There had been hope a reprieve would be given “to allow the participation of head coaches, holding a valid CAF B licence (or equivalent) for countries that haven’t organised any CAF A licence courses in the past 5 years”.
However, communication from CAF this week made it clear the Dutchman would not be allowed to sit on the FC Platinum bench in their Champions League assignments.
The club said they were making the necessary adjustments to ensure they represent the country well, in the tournament, and also remain competitive on the domestic front.
Zimbabwe last held the course in 2017.
“The FC Platinum board, and executive management, have met over the decision by CAF not to give a special dispensation to coach, Hendrikus Pieter De Jongh to sit on the team’s bench during Champions League matches as he does not have a CAF A licence,” club president, Fabian Mashingaidze, said in a statement.
“While we are concerned about the potential effects of this move, in the short term, we are confident that our club has options to ensure that the upcoming matches in the preliminary round against Costa do Sol of Mozambique will go on with minimal disruption.
“To ensure our long-term competitiveness, we are assessing a number of options to enable the team’s capacity to perform at domestic and CAF competitions.
“We are happy to report that morale in the camp is high and the players are well aware of the need to produce a good result in Mozambique ahead of the return fixture to ensure progression to the next round.’’
On Wednesday, as part of their preparations for their Champions League adventure, FC Platinum hosted Ngezi Platinum in a friendly that ended in a 1-1 draw at Mandava.
“The encounter was an exciting, yet balanced clash in which both teams tested their respective preparedness levels with regards to competitive football, after a long Covid-19 break,’’ the club said.
Ralph Kawondera, who was brought from Triangle, scored for the Zvishavane side while Anelka Chivandire was on target for the visitors.
FC Platinum playmaker, Brian Banda, believes there is enough quality at the club to help them make a big impression in the Champions League.
The pressure on the club to do well also comes from the fact that they are the country’s sole representatives in this season’s continental inter-club football competitions.
They will travel to Maputo next weekend before hosting Leonardo Costas’ charges at the National Sports Stadium a week later.
The last time a Zimbabwean side took on Costa do Sol in the tournament was 12 years ago when Edward Sadomba’s hat-trick at Gwanzura powered Dynamos to a 3-0 win.
The Glamour Boys then produced a fine game-management show in Maputo to lose 1-2 and qualify 4-2 on aggregate.
Under the guidance of coach David Mandigora, that DeMbare side went all the way to reach the semi-finals, of that Champions League campaign.
FC Platinum will be seeking a similar fairytale run this season.
Banda was plucked from Highlanders, as De Jongh, sought to reinforce his arsenal, ahead of the tough continental adventure.
The midfielder described FC Platinum as a unique home saying he has never felt as a newboy since his arrival last month.
“Everything has just been fine. I don’t see many differences from where I am coming from (Highlanders),’’ he said.
“Maybe, the difference is in how we have been conducting our training sessions at FC Platinum and the level of preparedness from my teammates and everyone else.
“As for myself, I don’t have any pressure, I just take everything step-by-step. Obviously, we have to respect our opponents (Costa do Sol) but we will try our best to work hard and overcome and take it to the next stage.
“Our main target is to reach the group stages and hope that we advance from there as well.” FC Platinum only started training as a group, six weeks ago, having spent over seven months in lockdown, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But, Banda said the will not be looking into all that, as their aim is to be competitive and represent the country well.
“We are footballers and we don’t look for excuses. We are here to play football and win matches, no matter the circumstances.
“Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic disturbed us a lot. It affected us big time but we are back and looking to win matches and achieve our goals.”
FC Platinum have taken advantage of the resumption of group training for Premiership teams as they have been engaging some of them for some training matches.