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NORMAN MAPEZA says he expects a tough battle at Mandava this afternoon as FC Platinum hope to keep Zimbabwe’s flag flying high in the CAF Confederation Cup preliminary second leg tie against Sofapaka of Kenya.

The hosts have the edge after winning the first game in Nairobi 2-1 two weeks ago, but Mapeza expects his opponents to throw everything at them as they try to rescue this tie.

The FC Platinum coach said it was wrong for anyone to suggest that this tie was as good as over following their win in Kenya.

“It’s not yet over. The match is a new chapter for us, but we are ready for Saturday (today),” said the youthful gaffer.

“I want to assure everyone that we are ready for the match.

“I have aised my guys to guard against complacency.

“We won 2-1 in Kenya, but it’s not going to be easy.

“Sofapaka are a physical side that do not pass the ball around but like to have two passes and pump the ball forward.

“I know they will be pushing everyone forward because they are losing.”

Mapeza has mixed youth with experience and his young players like Wisdom Mutasa, Walter Musona, Nigel Papias and Tatenda Dzumbunu are gelling well with the senior players.

“The guys are not only representing FC Platinum as they have been playing for the Under-23s,” said Mapeza.

“It’s good for them as they are getting the much-needed exposure and experience as they are the future national team players. They also need to see how difficult it is to play football in Africa.”

Mapeza said he did not want to publicly say what his objectives were in the tournament as this could put his team under pressure.

“As coaches we have objectives.

“We want to push as far as we can go then we will talk after that,” said the coach.

“It’s good that the game will be played in Zvishavane as it is a small community which loves football.

“I hope everyone will come and watch the international game on Saturday giving us maximum support.”

New signings — Brian Muzondiwa and Wellington Kamudyariwa — were impressive in Kenya.

Muzondiwa, rated one of the best young players in the country today, scored in his first official game for his new paymasters.

Veteran Donald Ngoma sealed the win after Fioston Abdoul had equalised for the Kenyans.

Mapeza is spoilt of choice as he has Zambian international defender Aaron Katebe available and yesterday he included Allan Gahadzikwa in his squad after dropping Nelson Maziwisa.

Exciting young midfielder Dzumbunu has been retained in the team, but there was no place for Obrey Chirwa, the best player at the club last season, who was said to be awaiting his passport from Zambia.

Chirwa, who could be a key player for Zambia in the future, missed the first leg after he was attacked by a bout of malaria.

Sofapaka were expected in Zvishavane last night after travelling from Bulawayo by road and will be booked at Pote Hotel.

Match officials, who will handle the game are from Botswana and arrived in the mining town on Wednesday.

Referee Tirelo Mositwane will be in charge and will be assisted by Bakwena Simankale and Madondo Kitso Sibanda while Omphile Phutego will be the fourth official.

Filipe Lucas Johane from Zambia will be the match commissioner.

Meanwhile, the Zvishavane community is excited to host an international football match in this mining town.

“I am excited to watch my team here since we were used to playing in Harare.

“We are going to win tomorrow and I predict a 3-2 victory tomorrow (today),” said Maxwell Mukamuri, a boilermaker at Mimosa Mining Company.

Maxwell Gwafa, a gold miner who also runs a taxi business, said it was good to host such a big tie.

“It improves our business in the mining town and Zvishavane will be recognised on the continent.

“Our hotels, taxis, ice cream vendors will make good business during the period so it’s a welcome move,” Gwafa said.

A CAPS United fan, Renias Masoko, said he would be backing FC Platinum this afternoon.

“I am Makepekepe fan but FC Platinum are representing all the clubs here so I will be supporting them.

“It is a big game in the mining town to have a team from as far as Kenya and I am prepared to watch top-class football,” said Maseko.

Tichaone Chivasa, a lawyer here, said he was thrilled that Zvishavane was hosting the match.

“Zimbabwe will be hosting two major events this weekend. The celebration of President Mugabe’s birthday and the match between FC Platinum and Sofapaka so we are blessed.

“It will also put our mining town on the African map There is going to be a boost in business and I pray that the club goes past Sofapaka as we need to witness more matches of this calibre in our town,” he said.

Source : The Herald