Sikhumbuzo Moyo in TUNIS, TUNISIA
FC Platinum coach Norman Mapeza said he was proud of his team’s performance despite conceding either half to lose to CAF Champions League holders Esperance before an empty Stade Olympique de El Menzah here yesterday. This was the Zvishavane side’s first away match in the group stages of the Champions League and, at times, their inexperience clearly showed as the technically superior hosts dictated play for the better part of the battle.
FC Platinum packed their defensive lines, aware they could not go pound-for-pound against the hosts, and will probably be disappointed with the way they conceded the two goals that made the difference in this match. The first one saw their defence react slowly to clear the danger, and they were punished, while the second one came from some poor marking in the box, which exposed goalkeeper Petros Mhari, and the damage was done.
FC Platinum also lacked the discipline needed at this stage of the game, conceding a number of unnecessary free-kicks, including the one from where they let in their second goal after Elvis Moyo went for a reckless tackle.
But there were some positives for the Zimbabweans and, even though they did not create a lot of chances, they were not an embarrassment to their brand in a stadium where Dynamos and Highlanders conceded half-a-dozen goals against the same opponents.
Khenisisi Taha was twice on target for the hosts with goals in the 24th minute and 65th minute, the first a rising shot from the box after the visiting defence failed to clear their lines, and the second a header after some poor marking.
“We lost yes but I am proud of my boys, they played well and according to our game plan,’’ said Mapeza.
“We wanted a positive result but it wasn’t to be against a very strong side who are not only the defending champions but have a 20-year experience in the tournament yet this is our first time.
‘’The scoreline wasn’t that embarrassing and although we could have done better I’m extremely proud of my boys.’’
Mapeza felt they could have avoided the second goal and kept themselves in the game, with just a goal to get in the final moments, had they done better in defence.
“With more alertness that second goal wasn’t supposed to go in, we could have done better there but like I said, the game plan was adhered to save for that momentary lapse in concentration,’’ said Mapeza. “We will dust ourselves and we look forward to the next game.’’
The Zvishavane side next host Guinea’s Horoya who were in South Africa yesterday for a date against Orlando Pirates.
FC Platinum held Pirates to a goalless draw at Barbourfields last Saturday.
Esperance: Rami Jeridi, Sameh Derbali, Khalil Chammam(Mohamed Yakoubi 82nd min), Ben Mohamed, Fousseny Coulibaly (Chilane Chalali 66th min) , Frank Kom, Youcef Belaili, Taha Khenisisi (Haithem Jouini 72nd min) Hamdou
FC Platinum: Petros Mhari, Lawrence Mhlanga(Raphael Muduvihwa 90th min), Gift Bello, William Stima, Elvis Moyo, Devon Chafa, Kelvin Madzongwe, Gift Mbweti, Mkhokheli Dube, Raisome Pavari (Albert Eonde 70th min) Farai Madhananga