NORMAN Mapeza has warned his FC Platinum side that they cannot afford to relax when they take on bogey side Triangle at Mandava Stadium tomorrow.
The three-time Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions have a spring in their step following their 6-0 drubbing of WhaWha, sending out a strong message to their Group 4 rivals for the two slots into the quarterfinals from their pool.
They were hardly tested by the lowly prison wardens and they deservedly won the match emphatically, but know well that tougher challenges lie ahead.
Mapeza admits it could be his men’s first test of pedigree and acumen, especially considering that they have always struggled to outwit Triangle under the tutelage of Taurai Mangwiro.
In the league, the two sides have clashed eight times since 2016 of which FC Platinum won four times while Triangle also won four times.
In their duels, a total of 15 goals were scored, with the Lowveld side hitting the net eight times while Mapeza’s men hammered in seven goals.
“It’s a massive game for us. We will be playing a quality team. If you saw their performance against Ngezi last weekend, they did very well, but you could see the signs of not having football for some time,” Mapeza observed in his weekly Press briefing.
“They have done well to assemble such a team and it is going to be a good game of football. We have played them before and the games have been interesting, so I am expecting a good game.”
The battle of wits between Mapeza and Mangwiro has always lived up to its billing, never mind the form of the teams at the time.
Mapeza has demanded focus and has ordered his charges to forget about the WhaWha game.
“We just need to play our normal game. The guys did well when we played against WhaWha. I was impressed with our ball circulation and execution. The speed was impressive and we managed to convert the chances we created. We could have got more goals, but overall I was very happy,” he added.
The miners will miss five key players — Donald Ngoma, Donald Teguru, Raphael Muduviwa, Blessing Moyo and William Stima — due to injuries.
Mapeza is doubtful if they will recover in time for the tournament.
“They remain injured and nobody has recovered on time, but like I said we need to give each and every player a chance to play football. It is five games to go and if they manage to heal, some of them will get a chance to play in this tournament. My wish is for them to get well before the league kicks off,” he said. On the other hand, Triangle began the tourney on a low note following a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Ngezi Platinum.
And the former Caps gaffer will be looking to realign his side’s prospects in the tournament, in what is a potential thriller. – News Day