FC Platinum resume CAF Champions League quest
Zimbabwe champions FC Platinum will hope to make up for lost time when they visit CNaPS of Madagascar for the first leg of their CAF Champions League preliminary round tie on Wednesday.
Platinum are under pressure to reach the competition's group stages for the first time after falling short on each of their last two attempts.
The Zvishavane-based outfit have barely taken a moment's rest following a marathon run en route to domestic league glory, but that will be no excuse should they fail to negotiate their way past the Madagascar champions.
The return leg is set for Zvishavane next Tuesday.
Platinum look to be in much better shape than was the case at the beginning of the year, when they were outclassed 5-1 on aggregate by Angolan giants Primeira de Agosto to exit the 2018 CAF Champions League at the preliminary stage.
Coincidentally, Agosto, who went on to reach the semi-finals before losing 4-3 to eventual champions Esperance, may stand in Platinum's path again this year.
The Luanda-based side face Congo-Brazzaville's Otoho d'Onyo in their own preliminary round assignment, with the winner of that tie scheduled to play the winner between Platinum and CNaPS for a ticket to the group stage.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, coach Norman Mapeza was at pains to try and manage expectations ahead of Wednesday's encounter.
"We can only get better through experience, so for me as a coach, I don't want to put myself under pressure," he told journalists, as per News Day. "I don't want to put the boys under pressure.
"We are going there to play, see if we can get a positive result. If we don't get a result, that's it," he added.
"It's football, we don't have to put ourselves under pressure, because we are still on a learning curve."
Mapeza will have been relieved to see his team finally overcome their impotence in the final third last season, with their return of 52 goals in 34 matches representing a significant improvement on their 40 the previous campaign.
However, seventeen of their goals have come from Rodwell Chinyengetere, who also notched a further seven assists, and Mapeza can only hope that the midfielder will be able to replicate his domestic form on the continental stage this term.