Mapeza rallies wounded FC Platinum Norman Mapeza

Eddie Chikamhi

Senior Sports Reporter

THE wounds from the defeat to giants Highlanders in their last game are still fresh.

And, champions FC Platinum today need to find a way to spring back to winning ways when they host bogey side Bulawayo Chiefs at Mandava.

Pure Platinum Play, who have exclusively dominated the last four domestic league titles, got a timely reminder that they were not invincible following the 2-1 defeat at the hands of Highlanders at Barbourfields.

FC Platinum had won their opening two matches of the season with much conviction before the trip to Bosso. The defeat also had a sobering effect considering they had not lost to the same opponents in almost nine years.

Often it has been said that champions always find a way back on their feet after a setback but the platinum miners’ coach Norman Mapeza yesterday told journalists that they do not expect a leisurely stroll despite playing at home.

“It’s always difficult when you are coming from a loss but what is important for us is to stay focused and remain grounded, as we usually do,” said Mapeza.

“We will see what happens, come tomorrow (today)… but it’s all about mental strength considering where we are coming from.

“We need to maximise on home advantage. We know it’s not going to be easy but at the end of the day this is our second game at home, we need to make sure we maximise on our home advantage. That is very important.”

Mapeza wants his side to build on the positives from their last game, in which they created a number of scoring opportunities. But it was only the Soccer Star Walter Musona who managed to convert.

“The guys played well… I think we had some very good opportunities, enough to win the game or get away with a point but it didn’t happen. We need to work and rectify those mistakes. “I also think we didn’t defend well, especially those two goals which we conceded. We could have done better. But we have addressed issues and now everybody knows what we need to do. It’s always difficult when you go down but what is important is how you get up,” said Mapeza.

The platinum miners have almost a full squad to select their players, with the exception of Kelvin Mangiza, who is down with a bout of flu.

Utility man Gift Mbweti is up and running after recovering from a knock.

“Mbweti is okay. We gave him about two days to rest and the physiotherapists were attending to him. He is looking okay now. But then we have Alaba (Mangiza) who is down with flu. So, definitely he is going to be out but the rest of the guys that played in Bulawayo are all fine,” said Mapeza.

Matches between FC Platinum and Chiefs are unpredictable as demonstrated by statistics. Each team has won three games apiece from their six contests since Chiefs got promotion in 2018.

Chiefs are now under the mentorship of Lizwe Sweswe, a former assistant of Mapeza at FC Platinum, who went on to lead the platinum miners to their third league title when the former had left for a brief stint in South Africa in 2019.

This is the second time the teams are meeting inside a month at the same venue. The rivals got the season underway when they met in the Castle Challenge Cup, won by FC Platinum at Mandava.

Bulawayo Chiefs coach Lizwe Sweswe believes this is another big game for his team.

“It’s a big game, playing against the champions. But, I think the boys are ready because they know the challenge.

“We respect FC Platinum, they are a good team, they have been together for some years. But with the team we have and the way we have tried to combine these players, I think we are ready for the challenge.”

Swesswe also said he was not reading much into FC Platinum’s defeat to Bosso last week. “We cannot count on that because you could tell from the important moments when they have got the ball and without the ball and their entries into the box, they are a complete team.

“We can’t count on that defeat. What is important for us is to prepare ourselves well and try and come out with a good result from Mandava,” said Sweswe.

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