By Alvin Madzivanzira
ZIMBABWE giants FC Platinum go into battle this Sunday against Senegalese side ASC Jaraaf in a Confederation Cup group match first leg play off.
The match will be played at the National Sports Stadium.
The Senegalese visitors arrived at the Robert Mugabe International Airport on Tuesday.
The Zimbabwean giants were relegated to the second tier competition after a 1-4 aggregate loss to Tanzanian giants Simba SC in the Champions League.
Participation of Zimbabwean teams in the Champions League continues to be dismal, with Harare giants Dynamos being the only local team to do well in the competition.
The Glamour Boys reached the finals of the Champions League where they lost to Asec Mimosa under controversial circumstances.
Zimbabwe clubs began participating in the inter-club competitions in 1980 after the country gained its independence.
The Champions League, formerly African Cup of Champions Clubs, the CAF Cup Winners’ Cup is now known as Confederation Cup and CAF Super Cup.
The first Zimbabwean team to play in the African safari is CAPS United.
They have made a total of 13 appearances in CAF tournaments.
The Green Machine (CAPS United) made four appearances in the CAF Cup Winners’ Cup in 1981, 1982, 1983 and 1988.
In 1981, they exited the tournament in the second round while in 1982 and 1983, they crashed out in the quarter finals – the highest achievement the club has made.
In 1988, they were eliminated in the first round.
To date, CAPS United have made three appearances in the Champions League (1997, 2005, 2006 and 2017).
They have not gone beyond the second round, save for the last outing when they reached the league phase after beating famed Congolese side TP Mazembe to qualify for the group stage.
In the Confederation Cup, CAPS United made two appearances in 2009 and 2010 with the second round being the highest achievement.
In the CAF Cup, the Green Machine did not go beyond the first round.
They withdrew in 1993 and 1998, while in 1994, they were disqualified for fielding an unregistered player.
Such has been the sad story of CAPS United whose fame locally failed to transform into an African success story.
It’s not only CAPS United who have failed to make a mark in continental clubs competitions.
Army side Black Rhinos have also had a dance in the African safari, on three occasions.
Their first appearance was in 1985 when they had a formidable outfit which had the likes of the great Japhet Mparutsa, the mercurial Stix Mutizwa and the inspirational Stanley Ndunduma.
Most of the players in the Black Rhinos camp had been recruited from CAPS United.
The veterans who had participated in the African safari with CAPS United reached the quarter finals stage of the African Cup of Champions Clubs, now called the Champions League.
Bulawayo giants Highlanders have made five appearances in the Champions League.
From 2000 to 2003 and in 2007, the Bulawayo giants represented the country in the African safari. However, the black and white army did not go beyond the second round.
In the African Cup of Champions Clubs, Bosso made two appearances in 1991(crashed out in the second round) and in 1994 (disqualified in the first round).
Bosso made three appearances in the CAF Cup Winners’ Cup (in 1986, 1987 and 1992). They exited the continental clubs competition in the first round on all occasions.
The highest achievement for Bosso was reaching the round of 16 in the Confederation Cup in 2008. In 2011, Highlanders withdrew from the competition without kicking the ball.
FC Platinum make their second appearance in the Confederation Cup this season.
They first played in 2015 and exited in the first round. In the Champions League, Highlanders have made four appearances and the group stage is their highest achievement.
Now, playing in the Confederation Cup group stage play-off, the platinum miners need to win and qualify for the group stages.
ASC Jaraaf is one of the most successful sides in the West African nation.
Norman Mapeza’s side needs to win Sunday’s match and ensure they draw away from home. However, the platinum miners need to break the jinx and reach the round of 16 or beyond.
Mapeza has experienced players in the mould of Petros Mhari, William Stima, Gift Bello and Raphael Muduviwa (defence).
Though losing striker Perfect Chikwende to SC Simba, the platinum miners still have options.
FC Platinum recently signed former striker Donald Ngoma and defender Blessing Moyo to beef up their squad.
Rahman Kutsanzira, Ralph Kawondera and Lawrence Mhlanga are other players Mapeza can rely on to raid the West Africans on Sunday.
The match will be played in an empty stadium due to COVID-19 restrictions. The return leg is slated for February 21 at Stade Demba Diop in Dakar.
Hopefully, FC Platinum will write their own piece of history in the African safari and put Zimbabwe on the map.