Senior Sports Reporter
FC PLATINUM are set for a new adventure in the CAF Confederation Cup with a tricky group stage play-off against Senegalese football giants ASC Jaraaf.
The Zimbabwean, who made a bitter exit from the Champions League, will be back in action on February 14 when they host the West Africans in the first leg.
The return leg has been set for the following week at the multi-purpose Stade Demba Diop in Dakar.
The platinum miners were demoted to the second tier competition after losing 1-4 on aggregate to Simba SC of Tanzania in the first round.
This will be the second time that they will participate in the Confederation Cup.
They featured in the 2015 season but they perished in the first round after losing 2-5 on aggregate to Tanzanian side Young Africans.
ASC Jaraaf may not be a familiar opposition with Zimbabwean clubs, but they are the biggest and most successful team in Senegal with 12 league titles and 15 domestic cups in their trophy cabinet.
They earned their place in the Confederation Cup group play-offs after beating fellow West Africans FC San Pedro of Ivory Coast on away goals. The teams were inseparable after the two-legged first round tie had ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
But Jaraaf pulled through, courtesy of the 2-1 away win in the second leg. They staged a comeback on foreign soil after they had lost the home match 0-1.
FC Platinum would need to take their opponents seriously considering that Senegal are also ranked first in Africa on the FIFA Coca Cola rankings.
Jaraaf are experienced campaigners as they have represented Senegal in both the CAF Champions League and Confederation Cup several times.
The club has produced Senegalese football legends like Henri Camara and Papa Bouba Diop, who have both represented their country at the FIFA World Cup.
It looks like FC Platinum, who are looking to atone for their agonising exit from the Champions League, may also not have it easy in the play-off.
The platinum miners need consolation after failing on their target of qualifying for a third successive group stage. In fact, they had set the bar higher for themselves after announcing before the start of the competition that they needed to go beyond the group stage for the first time.
The three-time Zimbabwe champions are expected to return from Tanzania today nursing the emotional wounds from the defeat by Simba.
They carried a 1-0 advantage going into the clash following their victory at the National Sports Stadium in Harare two weeks ago.
But they experienced the worst of African football in Tanzania this week before succumbing to goals from veteran defender Erasto Nyoni, Shomari Kapombe, John Bocco and Zambian Clatous Chama.
The Zimbabweans played the game under protest after five key players – goalkeeper and skipper Petros Mhari, Lawrence Mhlanga, Silas Songani, Ransome Pavari and Congolese forward Eli Ilunga – were told they had returned positive Covid-19 results just two hours before kick-off.
Three officials — team manager Joseph Mususa, goalkeepers’ trainer Tembo Chuma and medic Jeskia Chavurura — were also reported to have tested positive for Covid-19.
The platinum miners were not happy that the hosts held on to the results of the Covid-19 tests that were conducted on Monday until the 11th hour.
FC Platinum even queried if the results had not been tampered with following similar complaints by Nigerian outfit, Plateau United, who experienced the same predicament against Simba SC in the preliminary round.
But repeat tests that were conducted yesterday confirmed that the players were indeed positive for coronavirus. Another player, Kelvin Mangiza, was added to the list following the latest round of tests.